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Wednesday, 11 May 1960

Mr McEWEN - The Government is in complete sympathy with those who have lost so heavily in the recent floods in Tasmania, and I respect the advocacy of the honorable member in the interests of those who have suffered. I should like to add that other Tasmanian members from both sides of the House have joined in pressing the case. My colleague, the honorable member for Franklin, my colleague, the Minister for Defence, and the honorable member for Bass all have joined in.

Mr Cope - What about the honorable member for Braddon?

Mr McEWEN - I think he was in it, too. We shall put him in as well. As is known, the Government has acted in conformity with a policy that has evolved over the years in respect of personal hardship and losses of public property, paying £1 for £1 with the State governments with regard to those items. But it has never been a practice of the Commonwealth Government on any occasion to assume a liability in respect of the replacement of private property beyond the limits of normal personal requirements. I think that the honorable gentleman's question implies the making of a loan.

Mr Duthie - Interest free.

Mr McEWEN - Interest free, as he puts it. I imagine that that is a valid point to put, but, historically, such matters have been handled by the government of the State in which a disaster has occurred.

I respect the honorable member's suggestion that a deputation representative of those who had suffered meet the Government. Frankly, I think that such a deputation ought to go to the Tasmanian Government. However, although I give no undertaking on the subject, I assure the honorable member that, if the Tasmanian Government felt that it was without the resources to aid these people, representations by that Government to this Government for a loan for the purpose would be considered very fully and sympathetically.

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