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Wednesday, 26 June 1946

Mr LAZZARINI - I saw the statement of the right honorable gentleman and prepared a reply to it which the press refused to publish. His statement was clearly intended to convey the impression that the cost of administering war service homes was £7,500 for each home. The fact is that the cost of administering the War Service Homes Department last year was £57,000. which included the cost of administration in respect of all homes already occupied by ex-servicemen. In .1932-33, when the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) was Minister for War Service Homes, the cost of administering the department was £74,177, and no homes were built. I make that statement for the purpose of showing that administration cost has no relation whatever to the number of houses built. I inform the House also that in the three years during which the honorable member for Moreton administered the department ' only two homes were built and administration costs were £217,000.


Mr Francis - I desire to make a personal explanation. The period for which I had the privilege of administering the War Service Homes Department was that which followed ' the term of office of the Scullin Government, the actions of which accentuated the difficulties of. a world-wide depression. At the time when I assumed office hundred* of war service homes were being surrendered by unfortunate ex-servicemen who were out of work and could not continue' to meet their commitments. Up to that time, 21,000 homes had been built. No homes were built in the period when I administered the department because the actions of the Scullin Government had intensified the effects of the depression and ex-soldiers were surrendering their homes. The committee composed of ex-servicemen which was appointed in response to my suggestion to the then Prime Minister. Mr. Lyons, examined the whole of the circumstances connected with the administration of war service homes. If honorable members read the report of that committee, they will find that my administration was so sympathetic and generous that the committee was unable to recommend that ex-serviceman should receive any assistance beyond that given to them at any instance. The observations just made by the Minister for Works and Housing prove that he cannot draw a distinction between the building of homes and a. depression.

Mr Lazzarini - I, too, wish to make a personal explanation. I did not ' intend to criticize in any way the administration of war service homes by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis). My sole reason for mentioning the costs of administration was to show how completely misleading had been the statement of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) in regard to the matter.

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