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Thursday, 3 April 1941

Senator CAMERON (Victoria) . - I rise to protest against the remarks made by the Minister administering War Service Homes (Senator Collett). The Government -would have us believe that its only concern is to provide for the welfare of returned soldiers, but at the same time it is associated with a scheme under which interest charges exceed the capital cost. It is capitalization of patriotism, or, in other words, patriotism plus profits. It would be quite an easy matter to erect homes for returned soldiers or nurses, and for the occupants to pay the exact cost of construction, plus the usual administrative charges. Nothing can justify the charging of interest. To-day volunteers for military service are being sought all over the Commonwealth. Men are wanted to fight for the Empire. They will respond to the call, fight for the Empire, and when they come back and ask for homes, the Government will say, " Yes, provided we can make a maximum profit out of you ".

Senator Collett - Come back to earth.

Senator CAMERON - It is not a question of coming 'back to earth. It is callous and brutal, more particularly as it affects those returned soldiers who find themselves unable to keep up their payments. They are thrown out of their homes and reduced to the level of the dole. That is likely to happen to a far greater degree after this war than it did after the last war. The protest made by Senator Amour and others is timely and the Government should give it serious consideration. If honorable senators opposite think that this system will operate in perpetuity and that the interest charges will be paid indefinitely by soldiers returning from this war, they will be sadly disillusioned. The Government would be well advised to heed the warning and to see if it is not possible to provide these homes at cost. The returned soldiers are not asking for something for nothing. If they can pay they will do so. They should not be asked to enter into an undertaking in which interest charges exceed the capital cost, and so provide more money for financiers who stayed at home.

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