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Wednesday, 29 June 1921


Senator GARDINER (NEW SOUTH WALES) .- Some months ago I asked the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) a question concerning the number of houses erected by Messrs. J. and H. G. Kirkpatrick for the Commonwealth Bank, and by the. War Service Homes Department. . By the answers submitted,, the Minister appeared to resent the question, because I suppose he thought I was desirous of proving that the Bank authorities had been constructing houses more successfully than the Department. An inquiry has been proceeding in connexion with this matter, and the Melbourne Age of the 16th June, 1921, reported as follows: -

At yesterday's sittings' of the Federal Public Accounts Committee Mr. H. G, Kirkpatrick, of Messrs. J. and H. G. Kirkpatrick, architects to the Commonwealth Bank War' Service Homes section, continued his evidence, commenced in Sydney.

Witness (Kirkpatrick) drew the Committee's attention to some adverse comment by a Sydney newspaper of the work of the Commonwealth Bank War Service Homes section..

The chairman stated that the great majority ofcomplaints related to the houses built by the War Service Homes Commission, and not by the Commonwealth Bank.

Witness. - It is very gratifying to hear you say that, because people are always confusing the two bodies.


The Chairman - We certainly have had a few complaints with regard to the Commonwealth. Bank houses, but there have been no complaints whatever regarding the great majority of the houses built by the Bank. That tact is worth putting onrecord.

Witness then gave particulars regardingthe number of War Service Homes built by the Commonwealth Bank. Up to the end of June, 1920, the Bank had built 731 out of a total of 767 erected in Australia.

On the following day the same newspaper contained this paragraph -

K.   A. Henderson, President Royal Victorian Institute of Architects, said that the scale of charges of the British Institute of Architects was only applicable to the group system,and would, therefore, bc applicable to houses built by the War Service Homes Commission, and not to those erected hy the Commonwealth Bank. The Bank's architects were not overpaid if the work was well done.

There was not sufficient information in thesecondreport, and I therefore obtained from Messrs J. and H. G. Kirkpatrick additional information, which I desire to place on record. It reads -

It will be noted that the chairman, Mr. Fowler, of the Federal Public Accounts Committee, stated that, "There have been no complaints whatever regarding the great majority of the houses built by the Bank, and that the fact isworth putting on record." It is also interesting to note the architects of Australia are now stating that the Bank architects were not overpaid, notwithstanding the fact that there was a lot of criticism about this matter some time back. At the Committee's request we have forwarded them a statement of our expenses. The statement was prepared in detail, and showed that our total expenses to datewere £38,062 17s.5d., while the amount due was £45,065 6s. 6d. We may state that the work is not completed, and until it is completed will cost us a further £4,000; therefore, making our total expenses approximately £42,000 odd. The following is the amount of work carried, out and completed up to 31st May, 1921 : -

 

It will be noted by the above figures that thereis a further 114 homes to complete. It will also be noted by the above that 1,877 contracts have been entered into, at a total cost of £1,165,537 3s. 5d. The average cost per home, has been £620.95. This average cost shows that we have worked within the £700 limit, as originally provided by the Act, and this has been, done by a large margin, as can be seen. We wish to state that this average amount includes fencing, path making, and in nearly every instance sewerage, besides the erection of thehome.

Ihave taken the trouble to put this further information before the Committee, because it is information which should have been vouchsafed, had a complete reply been given to. my question.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is not the full information.







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