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Thursday, 24 March 1927

Senator CRAWFORD (Queensland) (Honorary Minister) . - I move -

That the billbe now read a second time.

This bill will give to the War Service Homes Commissioner power to make advances not exceeding £950 in respect of those applicants who have already been provided with a home. In the past the maximum amount which could be loaned under the act was £800, and in New South Wales and Victoria, particularly, difficulty has been experienced in supplying other than a house of ordinary accommodation within that limit. Generally, when an applicant set's about obtaining a home, he has a small family; but families increase as the years pass, and additional accommodation in the home becomes absolutely essential. Unless the full amount of £800 has not been expended by the occupier, a further advance may not be made. With the object of remedying this position and enabling loans to be made to supply additional accommodation the present amendments to the act are proposed. It does not follow that every past applicant will receive an additional loan, or that he will receive the full additional amount of £150. The Commissioner's decision will be governed by the facts in each case, but, generally speaking, where it is shown that further accommodation is required to house the applicant's family, an additional loan, not exceeding £150, will be made to meet his needs, provided, of course, that the applicant is in a position to repay it. The amendments will also apply to future aDplicants; but they, like past applicants, will be limited to a maximum loan of £800 unless the Commissioner is of opinion that a loan greater than £800, but not exceeding £950, is necessary to provide essential accommodation for a particular applicant's family or his dependants. A consequential amendment Las been made to section 18a of the act, whichhas also been altered to enable the expenditure to be definitely recoverable by the Commissioner. As honorable senators will notice, section 28a is repealed. This section, to an extent, repeated the provisions of sections18 and 21. and made an addition to them. The addition has now been included in the amendments made by the bill.

For some years now the War Service Homes Commission has been doing excellent work. Under the reorganized administration the losses of the past have been stopped, the department has been established on a sound financial basis, irritating restrictions have been removed, and complaints have been reduced to a minimum. The operations of the Commission to date include -


To the 31st January lastthe total expenditure of the commission has been £23,482,205, and the receipts have amounted to £9.661,081. Portion of the repayments are transferred to the National Debt Sinking Fund, and in the last financial year the sum so transferred was £744,548. The percentage of instalments outstanding is only 1.13, which honorable senators will agree is very satisfactory. Each case of arrears is dealt with sympathetically, and that policy will continue to be exercised in the future.

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