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Tuesday, 28 June 1921

Senator SENIOR - Would the honorable senator rather have the other alternative: that the soldier should show that it would be to his advantage to cash the bond?

Senator PAYNE - I do not see why any barrier should be raised if it is not going to inconvenience or embarrass the Government, from a financial point of view. When the men returned, I know that it was a wise precaution for the Department to provide that the bonds would not be redeemable until 1924,, with the exception of those whose holders who were in necessitous circumstances. I know of many eases to-day in which men would put the money to the best advantage where they would not have done so immediately after the bonds were issued. The object aimed at by the Department has been achieved, arid the interests of the men will never be further protected by allowing the restrictions to continue. Surely sufficient time has elapsed to afford all the protection we can hope to give to the man who would recklessly spend his money.

Senator Duncan - Most of them have got the money by some means.

Senator PAYNE - I do not think that if the restrictions were in force for another two years, any great advantage would be achieved. There is a fair proportion of men who would have wasted their money, but they have now sufficient common sense to use it in the interests of their wives and families.

Senator Wilson - Men who would recklessly spend their money to-day would do so in two years' time.

Senator PAYNE - Yes. I indorse the suggestion made by Senator Gardiner that the war gratuity bonds should be made negotiable, either by Act of Parliament or by regulation; but I do not approve of the comparison made by that honorable senator when he said that we allow the holder of a war bond to negotiate it, although he has not " done hia bit," whilst we withhold that privilege from the man who had fought for his country. We must give credit to the Government for having made such a protective provision at the outset.

Senator Thomasreferred to the Economies Commission, and perhaps I may be permitted to add to what that honorable senator said, because there is no doubt that people who have to find the money for public expenditure are very desirous of seeing some practical result of the wort . of that Commission. No matter where one travels in the Commonwealth, he will hear charges, some without foundation and some well founded, of extravagance in the administration of public affairs. There is a general feeling which, to some extent, is justified, that we are spending more in the administration of the affairs of the Commonwealth than we ought to spend. The taxpayers know that some money has been spent to enable the Economies Commission to carry out its investigations, . and to make its report, and people are wondering what effect is to be given to its recommendations. It would be good policy on the part of the Government, if Ministers were in a position to do so, to refer, in replying to this debate, to some.economies effected, or proposed to be effected, as a result of the work of the Economies Commission. .1 think that the remarks on this subject of the honorable senator who preceded me were opportune, and any reference to such economies will be highly' appreciated by the public generally.

There are matters dealt with in the schedule to the Supply Bill to 'which I should like to refer, but I will leave them until the Bill is under consideration in Committee. I hope that Ministers will be able to see their way to adopt the suggestion with' regard to the payment of gratuity bonds which was made by Senator Gardiner, and is indorsed by myself, or that if they cannot do so, some definite reasons will be advanced why such a scheme as has been proposed cannot be put into practical operation.

Senator DUNCAN(New South Wales) [5.431.-In view of .the feeling through. out Australia on the question of finance, I think it is* incumbent upon every honorable senator to give expression at this time to the opinions he holds on the question of public economy.. We cannot stress, too much the necessity, for economy. I do not desire to attack the Government, or to criticise their administration of public affairs. I recognise the very great difficulties with which they have to contend. I know that they are faced with a legacy of expenditure arising out of, the war and war conditions. . I realize that if, at the present time, they were to cut off public expenditure in the way some people desire, the result would be trouble and difficulty, not only for the Government, but for the very people who ' most profess a desire for economy in public expenditure. It is worthy of notice that those who are loudest in their call for economy are the very last to suggest the direction which economy should take.

Senator Senior - Especially if the direction lies their own way.

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