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Thursday, 3 April 1941

Senator ALLAN MacDONALD (Western Australia) . - I congratulate the Government upon the introduction of this measure. I draw its attention to the desirability of beginning the work of constructing war service homes earlier than was done at the termination of the last war. Many mistakes were made in connexion with the previous scheme, and, owing to faulty administration the cost of the houses proved a serious disadvantage to returned soldiers who occupied them. I suggest that the Government should launch its construction policy before the majority of the men return from the present war. The wive3 and families of many members of the Australian Imperial Forces are living in rented properties, many of which are not entirely satisfactory to them. I should think that it would he a simple matter for the consent of the soldier to be obtained to a contract of sale, so that his wife and family could begin occupation of a war service home during his absence. The family would not only save rent but a contribution would also be made towards the accumulation of an asset for the soldier on his return. There must be hundreds of men, who have enlisted in metropolitan areas, to whom the benefits of repatriation in the form of facilities for land settlement or other such assistance would not appeal, and I take it that these men would be entitled to the benefits of the War Service Homes Act. At the termination of the last war there was such a rush of building activities that contractors' prices, the cost of land, and the prices of bricks and timber, rose steeply. After the first rush of building activities due to the construction of annexes to factories and workshops for the manufacture of munitions, and for the carrying out of other defence contracts, it is possible that the building trade will slump slightly, and the construction of war service homes on an extensive scale would probably check that slump, and keep carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers and similar workmen in steady employment.

Senator Aylett - "Would the honorable senator suggest that the members of the Australian Imperial Force who desire war service homes should enter into commitments now?

Senator ALLANMCDONALD.Yes. A permanent resident of a metropolitan area could sign a contract for a building or give authority to his wife to sign it on his behalf, so that the erection of a home could be commenced immediately. The proposition is simple. If ray suggestion be adopted we should immediately make a great contribution towards the solution of an important part of our post-war problems. I commend the Government for introducing the bill.

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