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Wednesday, 12 May 1920

Mr FENTON (Maribyrnong) .- After only a cursory glance at the proposition submitted : by the Government, a number of difficulties have been discovered. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) has pointed to several mistakes, which the Minister, of course, has readily promised to rectify; but if mistakes can be found in this proposition after a mere cursory glance at it, it is probable that mature consideration would disclose many more. The suggestion that this scheme should be withdrawn from the Bill and embodied in a separate measure is one to which I shall not agree unless I have an assurance from the Minister as to the approximate date on which the new measure will be introduced. It seems to me that this new alternative scheme has been drafted at the behest of the leaders of the Senate, who are not the custodians of the public purse, and in such a form as to place almost insuperable difficulties in the way of returned soldiers who desire to become their own masters. It would exclude from the operation of the system applicants who, in the opinion of the Commission, had been satisfactorily settled in civil life. A concrete instance of the injustice which this would work is to be found in the statement made a few days ago by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart). The honorable member stated that he saw a number of returned soldiers doing the major work of a saw-milling business at a railway siding, and was told by them that the only reason why they did not start for themselves was that they had not the necessary capital. With a little assistance from the Government they would be able to start for themselves ; but, under this alternative proposal, they wouldbe regarded as having been " satisfactorily settled in civil life." These are the very class of men we want to reach. They would probably become leaders of others, and would be responsible for the industrial salvation of quite a number. I join with the honorable member for Capricornia in urging that the matter be allowed to stand over until a later hour, so that we might have time to consider it. I shall cer tainly oppose the proposition as it comes from the Senate.

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