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Wednesday, 2 November 1921

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - I want to say quite candidly that prior to this debate I did not under-, stand exactly how far-reaching this clause might be. We are in a generous spirit to those who served in the Navy, but I do not think we can carry out the proposal. It does not include returned members of the Australian Imperial Force. and the Government is pledged to give preference to these, as well as to those who were on active service in the Navy. I did not know that I was fathering a proposal which might have the effect of giving to Navy men a preference which is denied to ex-members of the Australian Imperial Force. Now I find that it puts the returned sailor in a different position from the returned soldier. When any question is before this Senate I am not in the habit of asserting that I know all about it when in reality I do not. If the Senate is not going to be generous, and grant my request for a postponement of the clause, when honorable senators want time to consider something, I will stand against it. The proposal goes further than I thought. There is a contradiction in it unless it is limited to those who have had active service either, in, the Army or in' the Navy, and it will also be a contradiction to give preference to naval men who have not had active service.

Senator Reid - How does this interfere with the preference given to returned soldiers and naval men in the other part of the Bill?

Senator RUSSELL - I have discussed the matter with the Acting Public Service Commissioner, and have ascertained that it was intended to give these men a preference in certain Departments. That was the intention, and that would be the effect of the administration.

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