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Thursday, 3 April 1941

Senator FRASER (Western Australia) . - I should like to know whether members of the Mercantile Marine will be entitled to the benefits provided under this measure.

Senator Collett - Yes.

Senator FRASER - As an occupant of a war service home myself, I agree with much of what Senator Allan MacDonald has said. When the war service home construction programme was under way after the last war the demand for homes and the best construction materials was very keen, but it must be admitted that the best materials were not put into many of the homes then built for returned soldiers. In addition, the average price of a war service home, of from £800 to £900, which was influenced largely by the high cost of materials and labour, was too costly for the average returned soldier, with the result that a demand arose for a reduction of values. I commend the Government for introducing the bill. I am pleased that it has not decided to wait until the cessation of hostilities before attending to this problem. Whatever steps it takes in that direc tion now will reduce our difficulties after the war. If we hesitate, as was done after the last war, to attend to this problem, we shall find that the same difficulties will arise. Another evil associated with our war service homes programme after the last war was the activities of speculators. Values reached such a high level that many soldiers were forced to abandon their homes. They realized that they could not pay off their home in their lifetime. I urge the Government to commence this scheme immediately.

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