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Tuesday, 2 June 1942

Mr BAKER (Maranoa) .- The time has come when we should seriously consider the position of the soldiers who, broken in spirit and war . weary, are discharged and return to their homes. We know what happened to tens of thousands of soldiers who returned from the 1914-18 war - the war which was fought to end all wars and to make the world safe for democracy. In view of the fact that many nonessential industries are being put out of action for the purpose of speeding up the war effort, and in spite of all the talk of the coming new order, there may be another man-made depression. We shall V.2 told that there is no money. There will be few who will believe that. We should, without further delay, make plans and face realities, because the problem is with us now. Recently, I was told by the secretary of a patriotic fund that, when one of the first men to enlist was discharged from the Army, there was no work for him and he became a charge on the fund. I suppose he was too burnt out to return to his pre-war occupation of shearing. That is not an isolated case. This Government should give to our defenders an assurance that until each returned man has been restored to health, strength and normality, he shall be kept on the pay-roll. When the war ends - and we trust that that will not be far distant - the hundreds of thousands of men engaged in the munitions industry and in the newly-formed labour corps will find their occupations gone and will be on the labour market. What chance will there be for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who will then have to be demobilized and discharged? Discharged men must be retained on the pay-roll until they find suitable work. In support of what I have said, I shall read the following extract from the Sydney Morning Herald of the 25th February last : -

South African soldiers serving in the Middle - East have received a special message from the chairman of the Union's Civil Re-employment Board, Major P. G. van der Byl stating that no soldier would be discharged from the Army, either during or after the war, unless, or until, he had a job. " If you have a job ready for you, you will be able to leave the Army as soon as the necessary details are completed," the message stated. " If you have no job, your wife and dependants will continue to receive all the usual allowances until suitable employment it found for you.

The board is making sure that the job you come back to is a real job. Employers are obliged to keep their returned employees in employment at least six months. A special organization is being created to care for and to assist disabled soldiers to take their places again in civil life.

Younger men who gave up their training to join up will be given an opportunity to continue their training or studies."

Every South African soldier has been asked to fill in a form stating whether he has a job to go back to, whether he wants one found for him, what his qualifications are, and what training he needs for any particular job.

It is pointed out that these regulations governing post-war employment apply to service women as well as men.

There are at present hundreds of smartly uniformed South African women serving in the various auxiliary services in the Middle East.

That which the Government of South Africa can do for its returned soldiers can also be done by Australia. I commend this vitally important matter to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), who is now in charge of the House.

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