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Thursday, 26 August 1920

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon J M Chanter - Order! The honorable member is going beyond the amendment.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - Am I confined to the amendment only?


Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - Then I cannot ventilate any grievance other than those connected with the amendment?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - I have Sot prevented the honorable member from making a passing reference to different Departments, but I cannot allow him to deal with the administration of Departments in detail.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - Cannot I refer to grievances associated with the Defence Department?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - I must ask the honorable member not to refer to other Departments in detail. He can make a passing reference if he so desires.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - When many of our soldiers in Government employment proceeded to theFront, they were informed that they would be treated as well as soldiers who were in private employment. The Government led this House to believe that they would pay the war premiums which had been incurred by the soldiers on life-insurance policies. In view of this promise, some of the soldiers insured their lives and paid the war risk. When they applied to the Department for a refund of the premiums paid, the Department in some cases complied, but, after paying the amount, asked that it should be refunded. Is it fair that the men who risked their lives for their country should be asked on their return to make the payment, when the Government agreed to bear the expense?

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - To what is the honorable member referring?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - Some of the soldiers were under the impression that the life insurance premiums would be paid by the Government, and as they had no time to make final arrangements before leaving, they paid the premiums themselves. On their return, they approached the Government for a refund of the money, which was granted, but now the Defence Department has asked that it be returned, because of a request made by the Treasury.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - I have never heard of it.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - It is an extraordinary position; but I believe if the facts are placed before the Assistant Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie), he will give the matter his careful consideration.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - It is the first I have heard of it.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - Is the Treasurer prepared to say that the Government will treat the men as fairly as they have been treated by private employers ?

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - We will do what we have promised.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - A section was inserted in the amending Defence Act which enables the Government to deduct the money from the salaries of the men if they do not make the necessary refunds.

Sir Granville Ryrie - I have not heard of it.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I have seen the notices that have been issued by the Defence Department.

Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - Look how the menin the Anzac tweed industry were treated by that gang.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - Having referred to the notice issued by the Defence Department, I feel sure that the Assistant Minister for Defence will follow the matter up, and if he approaches me, I shall be prepared to furnish him with full particulars. As the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) may desire to refer to the men in the Anzac tweed industry, I shall not detain the House longer.

Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - They were crucified by Senator E. D. Millen for the sake of Flinders-lane.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I understand that the Treasurer has assured the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) that he will meet his amendment.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - He has not said anything of the kind.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I am prepared to accept the Treasurer's statement. Honorable members have many grievances, and the best way of securing redress is not by embarrassing the Treasurer or the Government, but by plainly stating the facts, so that they will know what to do.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Treasurer has not promised anything.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I am prepared to accept the Treasurer's statement. Additional telephone facilities are required in my district, and if I can have the assurance of the PostmasterGeneral that attention will be given to our urgent necessities, I am prepared to hear what the honorable member for Melbourne has to say concerning Flinderslane and the Anzac tweed industry.

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