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Tuesday, 4 May 1920

Mr MAXWELL (Fawkner) .- I rise to offer a suggestion to the Committee. There is. an excellent opportunity here for honorable members to give a practical illustration of their faith in the principle of co-operation. I am perfectly certain that honorable members of each of the parties in this House have the interests of returned soldiers at heart, and desire at the same time to conserve the interests of the Commonwealth. I am satisfied also that honorable members are all interested in the establishment of new industries wherever practicable and possible. I should like to say that, although I' do not believe that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) is infallible, I do believe that he has genuinely the interests of the returned soldiers at heart; he has more experience of the practical work of repatriation than any other man; and I have always found him to be a keen, practical business man. My suggestion is that a representative of each party in this House should meet the Minister for Repatriation, and discuss with him the whole question of co-operation for the benefit of returned soldiers. They might see whether, in co-operation with the Minister, it would not be possible to formulate a scheme that would find acceptance at the hands of every member of this Committee. I do not see why that should not be possible. If that suggestion is not adopted, I must say that I am strongly in favour of the alternative amendment proposed by the honor able member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs). I have little faith in the success of co-operative ventures controlled by inexperienced men, and in the interests of the Commonwealth, if a proposal of this kind is to be adopted, some guarantee of the bona fides of the co-operators to be assisted should be required, and they might well be asked to put down £1 for every £1 advanced tothem by the Government.

Mr Riley - Does the honorable member think that a man cannot be qualified to take part in a co-operative enterprise unless he has a few pounds in his pocket ?

Mr MAXWELL - I know that experience has taught me that not one man in a hundred is capable of running a business successfully. A man may be an excellent workman, but if he is asked to establish and build up a business, he may prove to be a total failure.

Mr Riley - The honorable member cannot have read anything about the cooperative movement.

Mr MAXWELL - If 100 inexperienced men are brought together to establish a business;]! the probable result will be merely the multiplication of the failures by 100.

Mr Riley - The honorable member should know that the big co-operative businesses in other parts of the world were built up by working men.

Mr MAXWELL - It seems to me that of the amendments put before the Committee, that of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) is the most practicable. But I, nevertheless,wish to emphasize the suggestion which I have already made. The question is an exceedingly important one, because there are great possibilities for good in the cooperative movement. The movement is one which may confer decided advantages upon our returned soldiers. Why, then, should we not meet together and discuss the matter in a friendly way?

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