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Wednesday, 11 November 1914

Senator BAKHAP (Tasmania) . - The motive actuating the Vice-President of the Executive Council is a worthy one, but he evidently fears a proposal the effect of which would be to afford relief to the very people of whom he has spoken. The general object of the bankruptcy law should be to extend relief to honest persons who find themselves in debt. The old idea that bankruptcy is an offence which ought to be penalized is out of date. The Minister is familiar with the graphic descriptions which are part of our literature relating to imprisonment for debt and imprisonment for bankruptcy. I maintain that the object of all legislation of this character is to afford relief to persons who, not because of any dishonesty on their part, find themselves unable to immediately pay 20s. in the £1. I think that upon reflection the Vice-President of the Executive Council will see that if we can secure individuals, including that worthy class, the country storekeepers, who help to keep our farmers going in times of stress, the latter will be able to obtain accommodation upon much easier terms. This measure is a non-party one. Our numbers upon this side of the Chamber are so few that it cannot be urged that we are taking up our present attitude, because of party considerations. I venture to say that if we can grant a greater measure of security to any person who is in the habit of assisting the farmer, we shall be doing that which is most conducive to the best interests of the producing industry. In no factious spirit I earnestly ask the Minister to say whether the amendment would not have the effect of enabling our producers to secure accommodation on such terms as would obviate the necessity of their taking advantage of our bankruptcy law.

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