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Thursday, 17 September 1942

Senator BRAND (Victoria) .- During the budget debate last night, Senator Aylett made some uncomplimentary remarks about me. He was prompted to do so by the statement that I made in this chamber last week 'that at least half a dozen members of this Parliament - not half a dozen members on the Government side of the chamber as the honorable senator said - should be in uniform and doing a real war job. I had no idea of linking Senator Aylett with that half a dozen parliamentarians. I thought that he was much older than he really is, but his conscience must have pricked him. He cannot hide behind the fact that he has a son in the fighting services. Many fathers are serving in the forces with their sons. Why did not Senator Aylett go to the last war? If he was too young, he is eligible to serve in this war.

Senator Brown - He said that he offered his services.

Senator BRAND - He wanted to know what war work I was doing. He may obtain an answer to that question by consulting the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde). I do war work quietly, without publicity, without drawing travelling allowances, and without wasting petrol by travelling around the country in motor cars. Senator Aylett said that I was a "has been". I remind him that, at the last general elections in Victoria, over half a million electors did not hold that view. Twice as many electors in Victoria as there are men, women and children in the State he represents voted for me, and a very large proportion of them were wage-earners. I am not a professional politician, I am not a soap-box orator, and I do not pretend to be a debater. I certainly prepare my speeches, short and infrequent though they are. No one ever prepared one sentence of my speeches. I do that to make them concise and constructive. I do not 'address the Senate for long periods, and I speak to the point. As to the reading of my speeches, I point out that the Leader of the Labour party in the House of Commons always reads his speeches. Some months ago, all of the exservice men in this Parliament - there ave 28 of them, excluding the four who are now overseas, met for the purpose of forming an all-party permanent committee to consider post-war reconstruction, particularly as applied to demobilized members of the fighting services. I was unanimously elected chairman, not because of my military rank, but because they considered that I still had a little initiative, energy and common sense. There are four ex-service men sitting opposite who were at that meeting. I could not let the remarks of Senator Aylett pass without challenge. I still say that there are at least half a dozen members of this Parliament who should be in uniform doing real war work.

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