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Friday, 2 August 1946

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) has not raised a point of order. The motion now under discussion is for the adjournment of the House, and on it, an honorable member may speak on anysubject that has not already been debated this day.

Mr FRANCIS - I regard this matter as most serious and urgent. I remind the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) who was the first honorable member to speak on this motion in addition to paying a tribute to the Minister for the Navy spoke on another subject as I have done. The same course was followed by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), and I intend to continue to discuss the important subject to. which I am directing the attention of the House. On the 2nd July, Mr. R. H. Coates, acting honorary secretary of the Queensland United Council of exServicemen, wrote to the Honorable H. A. Bruce, Minister for Works, in Queensland, as follows: -

I have by direction of this Council to submit the following resolution passed by them at their last meeting: - " That this Council calls the attention of the Queensland Government to published statements in the SundayMail on the 19th May, 1943, alleging excessive building charges and racketeering, also of black-marketing by various sections of the Building Trade. " That we further call upon the Government to appoint a properly constituted Commission of Inquiry into the matter, such Commission to accept evidence from representatives of reputable ex-servicemen's and other organizations interested."

It is felt by the United Council of exServicemen (Queensland) that the charges made by the Sunday Mail are so grave that in the interests of the people generally, and ex-servicemen in particular, the State Government should probe these allegations.

We are concerned at the lag in the building of homes for men discharged from the Forces as disclosed by the latest figures of 29 per cent. of the quota to June 1946, of homes constructed or under construction, and feel that such charges if sustained must operate against a complete fulfilment of the Government's 'housing policy.

The Minister replied as follows: -

Your letter of the 2nd July received, requesting that the Government appoint a properly constituted commission of inquiry into the statements published in the Sunday Mail of the 19th May, 1946, alleging excessive building charges and racketeering, also blackmarketing by various sections of the building trade.

In my position as Minister in charge of housing I am well aware of the shortage of material which has brought about a lag in the building of homes for men discharged from the forces. However, our activities are concerned solely with the housing of thepeople with the largest families and the smallest incomes,living under sub-standard conditions. Under an agreement with the Commonwealth Government, a 50 per cent. preference at least is given to ex-servicemen. The Federal Government solely controls the War Service Homes activities, which give 100 per cent. preference to soldiers, and I think that your organization should get in touch with your federal member or the federal Minister concerned in order to expedite this angle of activities which could do much more in picking up the lag as far as the housing of soldiers is concerned than anyother organization.

The lag is further accentuated by the strike that is at present taking place all over Queensland insofar as housing material procured from the southern States is not available owing to the waterside workers being on strike in sympathy with the meat workers.

However, I will place your council's request before Cabinet for consideration, and will write you further later.

Mr SPEAKER - Order. ! The honorable member's time has expired.

Motion (by Mr. Hutchinson) negatived -

That the honorable member for Moreton be granted an extension of time.

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