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Wednesday, 4 December 1935

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Posmaster-General) . - in reply - One is highly gratified with the reception which this measure has had from honorable senators. Dealing with the point raised by Senator Allan MacDonald, I point out that this bill does not refer to arrangements made by the Minister administering war service homes or by the commission in respect of the conduct of affairs in any particular state ; nor does it lay down any directions with regard to the manner in which that business shall be conducted. I shall convey his remarks to the responsible Minister, but I know of no intention to change the present arrangements.

In reply to Senator Uppill, I may state that I always regard as unfortunate criticism levelled by a State department against a department of the Commonwealth, or by an official of a Commonwealth department against a State department. I have come to the conclusion, after very' careful consideration of the matters raised by the War Service Homes Commissioner in his report, some of which were things that perhaps would have been better left unsaid, that the dispute is between two very efficient and excellent officers, both of whom are inclined to bite the official grass a little too short on occasions. I am confident that the Minister who has personally examined this matter will see that no dispute between State and Commonwealth officials shall occur in connexion with the administration of this department.

The quarrel of Senator Brown is with the gentleman who created interest. All of us have a considerable grievance against him, but this is a factor from which I am afraid we have not yet devised *a sane means of escape. I believe that the originator of the system of interest payments was an Italian, and perhaps the Abyssinians will be able to throw some light on that matter before the present contest is finished.

In regard to Senator Hardy's inquiry concerning the letting of reverted homes, the department informs me that in every instance where a soldier desires to take over a home and can comply with the conditions, he is given first preference; otherwise the department would be evading the very spirit of the "War Service Homes Act. It is impossible to provide a schedule to cover all cases such as those mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings). It is true, as the honorable senator has said, that although there may be three or four children in the home and some of them earning money, the income of the widow may not be so much as it is generally supposed to be. I can, however, assure him that all relevant facts concerning the income are taken into consideration by the Commissioner.

Senator Collings - What is required is sympathetic administration.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The Minister has stated that it is the intention of the commission to deal sympathetically with each case on its merits, so widows need have no fear on that score. As the intention of the hill is to give relief, the commission will not be wanting in generosity in the bestowal of the benefits of the measure.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clause 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 (Reduction of instalments).

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