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Wednesday, 3 April 1946

Mr WHITE (Balaclava) .- Recently, I asked a question regarding the number of ex-servicemen's wives and children still in Britain, and learned that there were over 2,000 waiting for transport to Australia. The rate at. which they were being brought back is so slow that no estimate, apparently, can be formed as to the time when all will be brought here. I have been reliably informed that many large passenger ships on the Australian coast, including hospital ships, are not now usefully employed. Therefore, I suggest that one of these ships be used to carry to Great Britain the Australian contingent, which is to march in the Victory Parade, and that, on its return trip, it should carry wives of Australian servicemen. On the trip to Great Britain the space not occupied by members of the contingent could be filled with food for Britain. We have not done so much as we might to supply food to Britain; indeed, the Government has done practically nothing.

Mr Frost - Would it not be necessary for the ship to bring the members of the contingent back to Australia?

Mr WHITE - Yes, but the contingent would not take up all the accommodation. On the trip to Britain, the cabins could be filled with food which would, not require refrigeration.

Mr Frost - Would it not be better to use a warship to take the contingent overseas ?

Mr WHITE - The trouble is that warships have not been used to bring back to Australia the wives of servicemen. I have been informed that there are on the Australian coast twelve ships with a passenger accommodation of 500 or over. The sending of a ship of that kind to Great Britain loaded with food would be a gesture that would be very much appreciated.

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