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Friday, 6 October 1911


Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - I do not see that any grievous harm can be done if the clause, amended as Senator McDougall proposes, is carried. If dealers in curios want to dispose of their stock of medals, the Government, under this provision, will be able to purchase them if it thinks proper.


Senator Rae - They will form the nucleus of a State pawnshop !


Senator DE LARGIE - If need be, I do not see why not. At all events, I see no great harm in the amendment, which will not affect medals purchased before the passage of this measure.


Senator Millen - It will affect their future sale.


Senator DE LARGIE - Very little. The Government are taking power to pur- chase medals which dealers may wish to sell. I have had probably greater experience amongst old soldiers than Senator Gardiner has. As one reared in the Old Country, I was frequently brought into contact with men who had served in the Army, and I can say that I never met an old Army man who was worth his salt who would part with his medals on any consideration. No drink and no food would purchase than.


Senator Rae - It would be a positive virtue to sell a medal under certain circumstances, if a man had a wife and family dependent upon him.


Senator DE LARGIE - It is idle to assume that a man would want to sell a piece of metal, the intrinsic value of which was very little, to get food for his wife and children. I know an old man living in Newcastle, New South Wales, who is possessed of two medals. He has lived for thirty years in Australia, and has worked as a coal miner. Mr. Watkins, a member of another place, ascertained that a pension was payable on account of one of these medals, and induced the old gentleman to apply for it. He then found that he had two, to both of which pensions were attached. Now, I am glad to say, he not only enjoys his old-age pension, but the two pensions which pertain to his medals.


Senator McGregor - He did not know the value of them himself.


Senator DE LARGIE - Intrinsically, their value was very little, but he attached a great value to them, and nothing would ever buy them from him. Senator Gardiner waxed so eloquent upon the drink argument that it is difficult to believe that he spoke as a total abstainer. I am rather inclined to doubt his declarations on the point. His knowledge seemed much more comprehensive than he gave us to understand. I am quite satisfied, however, that no man who has been in the Army, and has won a medal, would part with it for drink, or anything else, except under exceptional circumstances.


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Except he was very thirsty.


Senator DE LARGIE - Exceptional circumstances are dealt with by Senator McDougall's amendment. Indeed, they are more than met, because, if a man who has a medal is reduced to severe straits, he will know that he can go to the Defence Department, and bring his case under the notice of the authorities, who can then relieve him.


Senator Vardon - They will give him 6d. for his medal - its intrinsic value.


Senator DE LARGIE - In my opinion, they will give him a great deal mote.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator's opinion would not earn the man a feed.


Senator DE LARGIE - He will be able to bring his case under the notice of those who will give consideration to it, and who, I am satisfied, will pay him far more for his medal than a collector or dealer in curios would. I hope that the amendment will be carried.







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