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Thursday, 17 August 1972
Page: 430

Mr LUCHETTI (Macquarie) - Tonight I make a plea for action to protect the aged, the infirm and those people in the community who are uninformed on business methods from the dishonest transactions of snide salesmen and people who engage in door to door operations with people who are unfit to match them in business methods. Throughout Australia many people are suffering because of the actions of such salesmen. Hard working people have their money taken from them. They have been defrauded by people from whom they should be protected. It is tragic that in Australia today, within the law, operators can engage in this type of activity and can take money from people. It seems that no protection can be afforded to those who suffer. Law and order is a popular cry these days. Surely there should be some means of protecting people who have lost their money and who have been systematically robbed not only of their savings but also of their cherished hopes with respect to homes and other such matters.

So that the Government will know something about the situation I bring to the attention of the Parliament 2 cases that have been referred to me. These involve people who should be protected. The first concerns 2 age pensioners who were approached by salesmen from Alco Sales Pty Ltd. The salesmen called at the home of these elderly people - the husband aged 85 and the wife a few years his junior - and discussed with them plans to place an aluminium roof on their old home which today has only an old rusty galvanised covering. The businessmen told a good story and convinced the pensioners that they would be able to provide a suitable roof for them providing a reasonable payment was made. The salesmen did not tell them all the facts. These age pensioners live in Inch Street, Lithgow. 1 will make their names available to the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood). After a while the pensioners were asked what money they had and the pensioners told the salesmen of their income and receipts. They told them that they had recently been able to redeem an industrial assurance policy and that with some other savings they could gather some $420. The agents accepted the money and signed a receipt.

According to the husband one agent placed his band on the contract so that the printing could not be seen and asked them to sign a contract for the covering of their home with aluminium. Whether or not a hand had been over the words, it is exceedingly doubtful whether the 85-year old pensioner and his wife would have known very much about it. But they soon found out that before a roof could be placed on their old home it was necessary for them to raise all the money required, which I believe was somewhere in the vicinity of $1,200. Being elderly pensioners they were unable to borrow the money. They went to the bank but could not raise the money. They then tried to have their money refunded, but this shabby dishonest deal could not be stopped. In their efforts to have the money returned, they found that this firm had changed its address. I understand that at the present time its address is somewhere in Chatswood, New South Wales.

On behalf of the people I contacted the Public Solicitor of New South Wales and I asked that action be taken to protect my elderly constituents - these hard working people. He was a man who had worked with a horse and dray through the burden of ali the heat and difficulties of the years to raise a few dollars only to find them taken from him. I say to the Parliament this evening that this Government, the State Government and governments generally ought to protect people of this kind. It is a shocking, scandalous, intolerable state of affairs if elderly people such as these are to be defrauded while governments remain inactive and refuse to take action. There should be in all of these cases a substantial cooling off period so that persons who feel that they are not satisfied with the deal or who find that they cannot go through with a matter of this kind can be given the opportunity of getting their money back Their contract should be cancelled, but this is not the case. The Attorney-General ought to look into this matter and action should be taken.

The other matter to which I wish to refer concerns a mother of 1 1 children living at Emu Plains, New South Wales. She claims she paid $2,663 to Trelawney Developments Pty Ltd whose representatives called upon her. The former address of that company was 590 George Street, Sydney. The company promised that it would provide this woman with a home if she would give them her money. The present address of the firm is, I understand, 310 George Street, Sydney. It moved from one place to the other, which is very much like the pattern of the previous case. T understand that an accountant represents the firm at the new address.

The woman told me that she withdrew from the Penrith office of the Permanent Building Society 2 sums of money - $500 on 22nd March this year and $1,751 on 27th March this year. She then withdrew from the Penrith branch of the Commonwealth Bank money which she had saved over the years which amounted to $412. These 3 withdrawals represented the woman's entire savings. All of this money has been taken from her. No action has been taken to provide her with a home, nor has any communication been made with her with regard to her future and what is to become of her funds, her savings. I have been informed that the receipts that this woman received from Trelawney Developments are held at present by Mr Peter Young and Mr Mike Willesee who have been investigating on her behalf this serious complaint.

This poor woman deserves the protection of a responsible government. She deserves the protection of Parliament. She deserves the protection of the lawmakers of this country. If a mother of 11 children can bc scandalously defrauded in this way, what hope is there of anyone having very much respect for the laws of the country which fail to take into consideration the extraordinarily difficult case of this lady. Perhaps she should have known better. Perhaps people are gullible. Perhaps they are illinformed, but they deserve the protection of the law of our country. In this case, as in the other case, protection has not been provided. Action is required to stop this form of robbery. There is no other name for it. It is plundering people; it is being carried out inside the law. If someone goes into a supermarket or store and steals some little article they are quickly brought before the court. But this thieving on the grand scale - this scandalous and shocking scale - seems to be going on unabated in this country. This brand of racketeering ought to be stamped out.

I can only hope that the Government will heed what I have had to say this evening. I ask the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes), who is at the table, to convey to the Attorney-General the sentiments that I have expressed and ask him to interest himself in these cases as well as the many others that are not reported because people who have been defrauded do not know where to go to seek protection or have no-one to speak for them. This is a black spot on the history of this country and deserves to be rectified.

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