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Tuesday, 2 May 1961

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Leader of the Opposition) . - I had not intended to say anything upon this socialist measure. I read this morning's " Sydney Morning Herald " and I am indebted to the writer of the leading article for the description of the measure that I have just used. The secondreading debate was very interesting, but now we are dealing with a proposition which certainly has novelty but is only a variant of a proposal that the Australian Labour Party has advanced over the years in respect of marriage loans which could be extinguished upon the birth of children so that ultimately young people may be helped to establish their homes and be relieved of the burden of debt which they have to incur to-day when they enter upon the marriage state.

I do not accept the descriptions of young people which some honorable members of advanced years have uttered to-night. I do not believe that our young people are purseproud. I do no believe they have very much money to throw away or that they are as irresponsible as some honorable members depict them. In my opinion, most young people have to save very hard before they can put a deposit on a home. They have to strive very hard before they can even think of accepting the responsibility of marriage. When we think of the activities of the land speculators, the house-builders and all the other exploiters and legalized thieves there are in the community, it is a wonder that any young people are able to marry at all.

The honorable member for Mackellar has tried to help his Government out of a difficult situation - and the situation in which young people find themselves to-day is indeed difficult. The Minister has promised to consider the matter. I hope the promise is not merely a formal one. I hope it was not given merely as an act of courtesy or with the hope that the honorable member would later forget all about his proposition.

I do not think the committee could possibly adopt this proposal in its present form. It is sketchy, I suggest, although admittedly many may say that it is fundamentally sound. A good deal of thought would have to be given to such questions as what would happen in the case of a person who had subscribed to a loan and perhaps had died before the date of maturity of the loan or after some claim had been made. The honorable member would not expect the Treasurer to give a definite acceptance to-night, nor could he expect the Government to accept the proposition even during the lifetime of this Parliament - and, of course, the Government will not be here to accept anything after next December. On behalf of the Opposition of to-day, I am happy to tell the honorable member that if he manages to survive the wrath of the electors, as few of his colleagues will, the incoming government will doubtless give some consideration to what he has put forward.

The honorable member for Mackellar will not mind my saying that we very often agree with some of his propositions. We admire his tremendous energy. We think he does produce ideas and propositions that merit consideration. On other occasions, however, we think of him as merely a brilliant eccentric. We disagree with the manner in which he flogs the issue of communism and unity tickets and similar issues. To-night, however, he seems to have contributed something that contains at least the germ of an idea. The Treasury officials and taxation officials will no doubt examine it in some detail.

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