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Wednesday, 12 May 1920


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - The honorable member must confine his remarks to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Grampians.


Mr RICHARD FOSTER - The amendment is to increase the liabilities of the Government by instructing them to advance money at the rate of £2 for every £1 advanced by the soldiers, instead of on a £1 for £1 basis, in connexion with co-operative projects. I maintain that I am perfectly in order.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - The honorable member may refer to cooperation in order to illustrate his argument, but his remarks must be directed to the amendment which is before the Committee.


Mr RICHARD FOSTER - My argument has a distinct bearing on the Governmen't's liability in assisting cooperation by returned soldiers. The prizes won from co-operative efforts under infinitely more favorable conditions have been few indeed. This proposal implies co-operation in connexion with small concerns; the limitation placed upon the amount precludes assistance to any big project. The day of small businesses is past. Honorable members know that thousands of small business men have been ruined during the last ten years.


Mr Hector Lamond - They are greater slaves than the wage-earners.


Mr RICHARD FOSTER - Infinitely, because the wage-earners are not slaves at all. The policy of honorable members opposite has been chiefly responsible for the killing of the small business men. To-day the conditions are such that it is almost impossible for small concerns to live.


Mr Gabb - The big concerns support the honorable member's party, and run it.


Mr RICHARD FOSTER - At any rate I do not support a large number of them. I ask the Government to stand fast on the £1 for £1 proposition. Even that will not be good business, for it will not be safe. I indorse the. remarks of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr). This is nothing less than a "wildcat" scheme, and honorable members will realize that before long. The Government 'have got off the right track. I desire to restrict them to a minimum of liability in connexion with this reckless venture. I would like to see the whole scheme rejected; it would be in the general interests of returned soldiers if that were done. I indorse what was said by the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) in regard to the liabilities of this country. Honorable members ought to realize that we are getting right up to the limit of our resources, and that if we do not have continued good seasons for the next three or four years, we shall exceed the limit. I ask the Committee to consider the financial position of the country, and not to support ventures of this kind, because the successes in the past do not justify the confidence which some honorable members have in cooperative schemes. It is the duty of the Government not to give advances to soldiers on the basis of £2 for £1.


Mr Hill - The general amount involved is only equal to four 6d. drinks per head of the population.


Mr RICHARD FOSTER - What has that to do with the question? This scheme will create a spirit of unrest amongst returned soldiers, and will give the Department worries that I should not like it to be called upon to bear. Why is another place practically unanimous in its attitude upon this question? Because the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen), with whom its members are associated day by day, knows too well of scores and hundreds of experiments in connexion with repatriation up to date, and knows the result of them. That Minister has been extolled over and over again by honorable members here ever since this Parliament opened, and when he gives the benefit of his experience we ought to listen to it.


Dr EARLE PAGE (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - These are their proposals.


Mr RICHARD FOSTER - I cannot believe that they are the proposals of Senator Millen. They are Government proposals, to minimize what is a wretched thing.







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