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Thursday, 3 April 1941

Senator AYLETT (Tasmania) . - I wish to comment briefly on the speeches made by the two returned soldier senators. I support the bill - nobody could justify opposing it - but I cannot see eye to eye with Senator Allan MacDonald. I agree that it would be of great advantage if the Government could inaugurate a housing scheme immediately, because of the shortage of housing accommodation in Australia. It is necessary that a scheme should be undertaken to provide houses for soldiers upon their return from this war, but I do not agree with the principle of asking soldiers who are now abroad, and their wives, to enter into heavy commitments. It would be much wiser if the Government built the houses and let them at a reasonable rental to the soldiers' wives and families.

Senator Allan MACDONALD - That is no good. I want to see every ex-soldier in his own home.

Senator AYLETT - Nobody wants to see ex-soldiers occupying their own homes more than I do. If the honorable senator would extend to me the same courtesy that I always extend to him when he is speaking, he would be able to appreciate the point that I am about to make. Not only do I wish to see adequate housing provided for soldiers, but also for all those connected with our war effort. I hope that this Government will make it possible for all workers and soldiers to own their own homes, but I do not wish to see men who are abroad at present entering into commitments, paying deposits on homes, partly paying them off, and then having the misfortune not to return to Australia. In such cases wives and families of soldiers would not have sufficient means to complete the purchase of their homes.

Senator Allan MACDONALD - Soldiers' widows are entitled to war service homes.

Senator AYLETT - That is so, but they have to pay for them.

Senator Allan MacDonald - In such cases the payments would be much less than they would otherwise be.

Senator AYLETT - That may be so, but the question is whether a widow could afford any payments at all.

Senator Allan MACDONALD - She would have to live somewhere in any case.

Senator AYLETT - Of course. As Senator Fraser pointed out, during the last war many homes were built at a high cost. A period of deflation followed, and in a few years, the capital cost of the homes could not be realized. The same might happen again, and even if it does not, there will still be the difficulty that I have mentioned. A widow may not wish to live in a particular place. She may consider that she would have better opportunities elsewhere. If the property were put on the market it would not realize the full price, and perhaps she would not get an amount equal to the deposit paid.

Senator Allan MACDONALD - She would get something back, whereas she would get nothing at all if she had been paying rent.

Senator AYLETT - As has been pointed out very clearly by honorable senators on this side of the chamber, there would be a distinct possibility of the widow losing the whole of her investment. It would not hurt the Government to build homes and let them at reasonable rentals until such time as the soldiers returned to Australia. Upon their return, the soldiers could then decide whether they would enter into agreements to purchase homes. I do not think that the honorable senator's proposal is very wise. A scheme along the lines I have mentioned should be adopted.

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