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Wednesday, 4 December 1935

Senator BROWN (Queensland) . - Naturally members of the Opposition support a measure which will relieve the anxiety of the widows of returned soldiers. In my few years of parliamentary experience I have received many requests for assistance from this unfortunate section of the community, and I have taken up the cudgels on their behalf. Undoubtedly, many widows have undergone acute mental suffering through the fear that they might lose their homes. Of course, they are not alone in that regard, because in. civilian life thousands of Australians are experiencing similar mental stress, as a result of the huge interest hill that they are called upon to meet. Instances have been pointed out to me in which more money has been paid in interest than off the principal. In some cases, the purchasers have paid off the total cost of the house in interest; but the dwelling still does not belong to them. The Government is evidently trying to alleviate the situation, but I foresee certain difficulties. With the creation of this trust fund account, will not the purchasers be required to pay two interest bills? First, interest must be paid on the money borrowed from the trust account, and secondly, on money still owing to the commission. I fear that after the lapse of years a widow may be getting further into arrears, despite the instalments that, she has paid. I realize that the Government is faced with financial difficulties and, although it. might not be practicable at present, I favour a scheme for the assistance of these widows by the elimination of interest, thus making it possible for them to pay off the capital cost of the home. Interest is the burden and curse to-day, not only of the widows of returned soldiers, but also of thousands of Australian people who are paying off their homes. However, I do not desire to press that aspect of the matter. I recognize that under the present financial system, it is almost impossible at this juncture for the Government to give effect, to my proposals, but, if such a plan could be put into operation, it would relieve the plight of many people, far more effectively than will the present scheme, which may add to the burdens of the widows.

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