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Tuesday, 15 March 1932

Mr MARTENS (Herbert) .- This clause gives to the Commissioner power to secure from the soldier the cost incurred in effecting repairs, and the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Mc Nicoll) suggests that there should be a limit of £40. The clause provides that the expenses incurred in effecting repairs shall be paid to the Commissioner by the purchaser or borrower on demand, or by such instalments, and at such times as are prescribed, or the Commissioner determines. There is thus a definite responsibility which the soldier has to accept.

Mr Scullin - The cost of the repairs becomes a charge which is added to the instalments.

Mr MARTENS - There is nothing to satisfy me that the purchaser is not liable to be sued. Of course, I realize that the Government can get nothing from a man who has vacated his house through lack of means; but there is just a possibility that a man may subsequently secure employment at a wage which will enable him, in the eyes of the Commissioner, to meet the cost of the repairs effected on the home he has vacated.

Mr Scullin - If he is dispossessed his " contract is cancelled.

Mr MARTENS - Hiscontract is not cancelled by his vacating the house. The liability still remains upon him. I do not altogether like the words " reasonable wage" in the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). I have in mind the case of a man who brought his sister to Australia and guaranteed the repayment of the passage money to the Government. When he made application to the migration authorities he was earning £4 a week. Evil times overtook him, and his average net weekly wage for fourteen weeks has been £1 7s. lOd. On that he has to maintain himself, his wife, and two children. When he applied to the commission for relief he was told that because he was in regular employment he is expected to live up to his obligations as far as he can ; the commission is not prepared to cancel his contract. The dangerous nature of this clause is indicated by the proposal of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. McNicoll) to limit the expenditure on repairs to £40. The Minister stated that the department will charge repairs only against the soldier's equity in the house, but the bill does not say that. I want to know definitely what will be the liability of the dispossessed purchaser.

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