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Wednesday, 16 September 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - The Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) suggests that I am suffering from either a physical or mental form of myopia. I assure the right honorable gentleman that I am not. It is sheer subterfuge to suggest that the (building programme of the Government has had the slightest effect on the two settlements to which I have referred. The Government undoubtedly has a housing scheme, but I ask the Leader of the Government how many houses have been built under that scheme.

Senator Sir George Pearce - I 'shall supply the figures during the discussion on the works Estimates to-morrow.

Senator COLLINGS - Not one has been built.

Senator Hardy - The honorable senator is wrong.

Senator COLLINGS - That, at any rate, is the information given in the House of Representatives to-day. The Leader of the Senate said that it would be a bad thing if the Government were the only landlord. As a matter of fact, it would be an absolute blessing if nobody but the Government were permitted to be a landlord. We have no desire to see the spectacle of jerry-building private enterprise doing its fell work in this Territory.

Senator Hardy - How does the honorable senator know that these cottages would be jerry-built

Senator COLLINGS - Wherever the building of homes for the common people, or any other job, has been entrusted to private enterprise, the track has beon littered with tragic and disastrous failures.

Senator Hardy - Private enterprise is responsible for the building of 90 per cent, of the cottages constructed to-day.

Senator COLLINGS - I am not objecting to that. Private enterprise was not responsible for the building of the tenements at Molonglo; they were constructed by the Government during the Great War for the internment of suspected Germans. The Leader of the Government said it was never intended that they should be regarded as permanent buildings. The right honorable gentleman would have us believe that those tenements constitute some recent difficulty that could be easily overcome, but the fact is that they were erected over 20 years ago. Yet we are stilltoldthattheywereneverintended to be permanent buildings. When does a temporary building cease to be temporary?Iwouldnothaveaddedfurther tothisdebatebutforthefactthatthe LeaderoftheGovernmenthasendeavoured to put me off again with a statement of what isbeing done, but he does not touch the facts of my complaint. At present, there are 300 persons in the FederalCapitalTerritory, most of whom have been brought here by this Government, who are without accommodation, and people continue to arrive for whom no accommodation can be made available. Girls at Gorman House are living two and three in one room. Until complaint was made recently in the House of Representatives, a member of Parliament could have his wife and family quartered at the Hotel Kurrajong while he himself had to live in Queanbeyan. Yet the Leader of the Government expects me to be satisfied with his assurance that the Government has a building programme. If nothing more is done than is being done at present, and if moreprogressisnotevidencedduring thenexttenyearsthanhastakenplace during the last five years, the same congestion, dissatisfaction, unhygienic conditions, scabies and bugs, will continue. The right honorable gentleman said that a statement had been made to the Advisory Council by a medical officer that the outbreak of scabies is more a matter of persons than of buildings. I remind him that nobody living at the Hotel Canberra suffers from scabies, and I know of no cases of that disease outside the two settlements to which I have referred. Having said so much, once again I shall have to accept the Minister's statement; but unless something more definite is done in regard to this matter than has been done hitherto, I shall not remain silent.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Proposed votes- Papua, £10,670 ; Norfolk Island, £670; Refunds of Revenue, £200,000 ; Advance to the Treasurer, £500,000 - agreed to.

Schedule agreed to.

Preamble and title agreed to.

Bill reported without requests: report adopted.

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