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Tuesday, 4 May 1920

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - May I remind the honorable member that the Committee is not discussing the question of co-operation, but the amendment moved by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs).

Mr TUDOR - Yes, and as to whether the soldiers shall find . £1 for £1 to establish co-operative works. The amendment reads- 47a. , (1) The Commission shall, subject to the approval of the Minister, have power to assist soldiers by way of loan to the extent of pound for pound contributed by them in cash or war bonds for the purpose of establishing industries on a co-operative basis--

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - The honorable member will see that that does not raise the question of cooperation.

Mr TUDOR - If the industries are to be started on a co-operative basis, it certainly does, and I was merely referring to the fact that one of the most successful co-operative concerns in the world was started in a very small way. Under this Bill we are endeavouring to establish a new principle by advancing money to enable men to engage in business. It has been generally recognised that it is the duty of the Government to assist men who were away from their trade or calling for three or four years, and, as the Minister (Mr. Poynton) has stated, Australia has done more than any other country in the way of reestablishing menin civil life. Although we may have done much, I am now asking that men who were engaged in industries before going abroad should be given similar opportunities 'to those who were engaged, in rural pursuits. We have been reminded of the industrial unrest in the community by the honorable member for. Indi (Mr. Robert Cook), who has said that if provision were made for the establishment of co-operative concerns many of our present industrial disputes could be avoided', as men would be employed in. establishments of their own. It has been said by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) that if the proposed new clause was embodied in the Bill it wouldbe the means of unsettling men who are already engaged in other occupations. I believe that 60 per cent, of the returned soldiers who have been discharged have never approached the repatriation authorities for assistance, but have gone back to the occupations they previously followed in factories, tanneries, or woollenmills, and many other industries in town, as well as in the country.

Mr Stewart - Because no provision has been made for them.

Mr TUDOR - Exactly. Whoever was responsible for administering the Act would, if this co-operative scheme were adopted, make sure that the Government had sufficient security, which in many cases would be as good an asset as land. The Government arenot prepared to advance, say, £250 each to a number of men whoknow something of the sawmilling business, and all the amendment of the honorable member for Echuca provides is that they shall be given the opportunity, if the Minister approves. The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) has teen fighting for a long time in the interests of returned soldiers in connexion with theAnzac tweed industry, andI trust that the movement may be assisted by the adoption of this provision. I trust that the proposal that the Government should advance £1 for £1, will not be considered. The Government are prepared to advance £2,500, plus £650 for building and machinery, for men who go on the land, but, apparently, they are not anxious to assist others. The Government consider that in such cases they have the land as security, but, as the honorable member for Echuca and other members of the Country party have stated, there are in many instances grave doubts as to whether the land is worth the price, paid. We know, that in the Devon Meadows Estate land which was sold at £30 per acre has proved absolutely valueless for farming purposes.

In connexion with the vocational training scheme, I believe that although a number of trainees have completed their course in certain trades, not a single man has been called up. Eight months ago I visited the Working Men's College, where men were engaged in electroplating, but I do not think the plant is there to-day. It would be far better to allow men to engage in work in which they were directly interested than to spend money in training them when the training is of no use to them.

Mr. mackay(Lilley) [S.30] . - I hope that as a result of this debate the Government will give its approval to the principle of co-operation. I am thoroughly in sympathy with the proposal that the soldiers, shall be accorded an opportunity to co-operate. Co-operation, in my opinion, would benefit them, as it would benefit many other sections of the community. We all know the progress that the dairying industry has made in consequence of co-operative effort. But, as tile honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) has shown, the clause to which the Senate objects, which was adopted at the instance of the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill), is crudely drawn and incomplete, because it contains no provision for the guidance of the Minister or of the Commission. In my view, the principle which it would put into elect deserves a Bill to itself, and I hope that the Government will definitely promise, to bring in a Bill almost immediately to carry out the object aimed at by the honorable member for Echuca. I regret that the clause, as it stand's, is incomplete, and that its adoption would lead to a great deal of confusion.- It is often impossible to get two men to agree, even on a very ordinary mattery yet no provision is made for settling any disagreement. The object of the honorable member for Echuca could, however, be properly carried into effect by means of a Bill containing ample provision for the settling of any difficulties that might arise. Failing the promise of such a measure, I shall .support the proposal of th© honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) .

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