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Wednesday, 25 June 1941

Senator CLOTHIER (Western Australia) . - I direct the attention of the Government to the action taken recently by the Public Trustee in Darwin. A man named Webb, who resided at Perth, a carpenter by trade, went ito Darwin, where he was killed on Saturday, 21st September last. Although eight months- have elapsed since his death, his estate has not yet been, finalized by the authorities. On the 4th February of this year, his widow received a letter stating that Ids tools had. been sold for £9 and *hat his clothes were in the hands of *he Public Trustee. Honorable senators will agree that no qualified carpenter would travel anywhere without a good set of tools. Certainly a carpenter would not contemplate buying tools in Darwin and paying unusally high prices- for them even if they were available there. The late Mr. Webb's widow and his father lave informed me that he had a full kit of tools, including two big planes valued at 37s. 6d. each, several smaller planes, four saws,- and a tool case valued at 25s. The tools were sold by the Public Trustee at Darwin without the permission of the man's widow, who was his next of kin. That is a very wrong practice. The Public Trustee had no right to sell the tools without first obtaining authority. I contend that the powers of the Public Trustee in' this respect should be cur- * Sailed. The secretary of the union to which the deceased belonged in Western Australia wrote to his widow saying that the tools were supposed to . be sent from Darwin to Perth. I understand that a carpenter offered Mrs. "Webb £25 for the kit. A statement received from the office of the Public Trustee in Darwin relating to the estate of the late Mr. Webb said that on the 12th October the following goods had %een sold by auction at the prices stated: -



The undermentioned amounts were collected :-


Proceeds from the sale of tools, &c, .. -.. .. 7 11 10


The statement added that the estate was now ready for distribution and would be completed next month. I told the ' lady not to accept the cheque because the procedure adopted was most unfair. Anybody knows that a carpenter's kit of tools is worth £25 or £30, yet this kit was sold for only £9. The excuse given was that all the tools were not there. Who is to know that the tools were not there? The man was killed and his tools should have been sent back to hi3 relatives without any delay. Public trustees should not have power to sell the belongings of deceased persons without the authority of their next of. kin.

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