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Tuesday, 28 June 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- Early in the debate Senator Gardiner referred to the cashing of war gratuity bonds, and I think it is only fair to say that the Government in imposing restrictions on the cashing of gratuity bonds were actuated by a very good motive, namely, that of protecting a certain proportion of our returned men so that the money would not be squandered. Every honorable senator has, I believe, received complaints from returned men in regard to the cashing of bonds. Personally, quite a number have been broughtunder my notice, some of whom, after making representations in regard to their necessities have convinced me that the money would be useful to them. But, the Department could not do anything under the existing regulations. There are many instances in which the payment of cash would have resulted in the money being wasted; but, fortunately, they are in a small minority. There is, however, one class of returned soldier who seems to have a very good case, and that is the man who has to bear the responsibilities of maintaining a wife and children and who finds that he cannot get his bond cashed by the Department, because, in its opinion, his is not a necessitous case. Another soldier, perhaps in the same street, who is single and who desires to marry, may have his bond converted into cash if it is his intentionto marry.

Senator Cox - But he must marry first.

Senator PAYNE - Yes. But the already married man with the responsibilities cannot secure the cash, and many cases of this kind have been brought under my notice. I rose mainly to place before the Minister the necessity of the Department being relieved of a good deal of responsibility, and this could be done if Senator Gardiner's suggestion were adopted. The suggestion has my support, because I believe that if the bonds were made negotiable, and placed on the market as war bonds are, the holder would get full market value for them. So far as I can see, such a procedure would not affect the Treasury in any degree whatever. I do not know the value of the bonds still to be redeemed. o

Senator Benny - They would not get full nominal value.

Senator PAYNE - No. But if the owner of a 5 per cent, war bond, maturing in 1923, desired to dispose of it for £100, he would get £95 or £95 7s. 6d. nominal value. Gratuity bonds redeemable in 1924 bear interest at 5i per cent., and in the open market they would, I believe, realize £94 per £100. If that is so, it would give many returned soldiers, particularly those desirous of starting in a small business, an opportunity of doing so without prejudicing the Government. Many citizens of repute have to get authority from the Treasurer, and in many instances the delay is irksome, both to the proposed lender and to the borrower. I trust that when the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) replies to the statements made during the course of this debate he will be able to show why such a proposal cannot be given effect to.

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