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Wednesday, 12 May 1920

Mr BELL (Darwin) . - I must differ from the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) in the reasons he gives for not supporting the amendment. One is that it will limit the number of soldiers who will participate in the benefits accruing from the principle of cooperation. He said it was only a simple proportion sum, but I cannot work it out to the same conclusion as he does. If the amount that will be advanced to each individual soldier remains at £150, as it does in the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett), and the soldier is to advance only £75, then the liabilities of the Government will be no greater, and the same number of soldiers will participate.

Mr Hector Lamond - The chances of success will be much less. It is a more wild-cat scheme than it was bef ore.

Mr BELL - That is another question, which I am not arguing at present. I take serious exception, also, to what was said by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Robert Cook). He accused the party behind the Government of not supporting the principle of co-operation--

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) - Of not supporting the soldier.

Mr BELL - That is much worse; but, as a soldier myself, I shall not answer that accusation, because we, as returned soldiers, have had a lot of funny things hurled across the floor at us during this debate. It is evidently parliamentary to say funny things about your opponents, perhaps to irritate them or to make them change their minds. Although I am a young politician, I am not young in the ways of the world, and I am not likely to be even irritated by some of the remarks that have been made to-day about the attitude of the soldier members on this side of the Chamber towards the returned soldiers. I am certain, that the soldiers whom we represent understand our attitude perfectly, and have full confidence in the representation we will give them. But the statement of the honorable member for Indi, that members behind the Government were not supporting this scheme of cooperationbecause they support the profiteer and the Combines, is unfair to the House. The Committee has already affirmed its approval of the principle of co-operation, and of extending it to the returned soldier, by voting twice for this proposal. Is it fair, then, to say that Government supporters are opposing it because they represent the profiteer and the Combines? The object of bringing down this amendment is to place the proposal in such a form as will be acceptable to another place. That point has been lost sight of by some honorable members who have spoken to-day. The proposal has been twice sent to another place and rejected. Would it not be a further waste of time to amend it only to such an extent that it will be practically certain of another rejection? I do not intend to support the amendment now before the Chamber for that reason only . I have as much confidence in the returned soldier as any member of the Committee. A great many statements have been made in commending the soldier for his business capabilities, while others have said that, even if the soldier is a better man physically for his war experience, he has become unsettled by it, and is therefore unlikely to handle business schemes as sensibly as he would have done before the war. I disagree with that statement, and regard the argument as futile. I. should like to see the proposal as it is now before the Committee carried, with the one amendment proposed by the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton). If it is accepted here in that form, I am sure it will be confirmed in another place. We shall then be able to get rid of the Repatriation Bill - none too soon, because the soldiers in general are waiting anxiously to see it become law. They do not want to read in the papers every day that we are still discussing it, and coming to no finality.

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