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Tuesday, 22 March 1927

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) . - I believe that a great injustice is being done to the public servants who have to remove to Canberra. In fixing the value of the blocks upon which residences are erected, the commission has been guided almost entirely- by the prices that have been paid at public auction by private individuals. That principle is wrong. The commission should differentiate between the person who is compulsorily obliged to acquire a residence at Canberra, in order that he may help in the administration of the affairs of the Commonwealth, and the person who settlesthere of his own free will or acquires land merely for speculative purposes.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - I ' should like to know how it could discriminate.

Senator PAYNE - Does the Minister know of any instance where the War Service Homes Commission has fixed on land upon which war service homes have been built, a value equivalent to the price that the land would have brought in open competition ? At Willoughby, one of the suburbs of Sydney, there is a beautiful soldier settlement in close proximity to the city where the soldiers were charged for fair-sized building lots about £70 or £80 a block. When the buildings were erected, those blocks would have brought in open competition anything from £150 to £250.

Senator Duncan - The commission is not selling those blocks to the soldiers at a loss?

Senator PAYNE - No, but it is taking into consideration what reasonable help can be afforded to the soldiers in getting a home. The same principle should be applied to the public servants at Canberra. No regard should be paid to values obtained for residential blocks offered to the public.

Senator Grant - Why single out the public servants for special treatment?

Senator PAYNE - Because we are compelling them to go to Canberra.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - The honorable senator is forgetting that the Public Service Board inquired into the difference in costs at Canberra, as compared with Melbourne, and that, as a result of the report of the board, the public servants are being given special allowances to make up the difference, lt would be unfair to supply them with blocks of land at a lower price than is paid by others.

Senator PAYNE - We shall all have to recognize that the cost of living at Canberra will be considerably higher than it is in other places in Australia except, perhaps, the Northern Territory . and other very remote parts. Every move on the part of the commission will accentuate that position. Why should £1,000 be charged for a 20-ft. frontage in the business centre when the upset price of those retail trading blocks a year or two ago was only £400 ? There should be a limit to that kind of thing. I rose to protest against the exorbitant price of blocks for public servants compulsorily transferred to Canberra. Special consideration should be given to them, so that the rent of the blocks they occupy may be as low as possible.

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