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Friday, 21 June 1946

Mr DALY (Martin) .- I congratulate the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) upon his maiden speech. The honorable member will be an acquisition to the debating strength of this chamber. I wish to refer briefly to some of the criticisms levelled against the Government with regard to its attitude towards ex-service men and women. "We all agree that in order to give the exservice manand womanafair deal and ensure that they shall obtain the rewards to which they are entitled there must be a common approach by all parties to this problem in , a spirit of co-operation and in a desire to give service personnel in every sphere the very best assistance we can give to them. However, we find in the communtity many "knockers'" who do not desire to give , any consideration to the ex-service men and women, but prefer to play at party politics in order to iavjure the Government. The record of the Australian Labour party, and particularly this Government, in its provision for exservice personnel is second to none. That claim is supported by the expresident of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia, SirGilbert Dyett, who paid a great tribute to this Government for what it has already done for the exserviceman. He isreported tohave said that so far as the ex-serviceman wasconcerned, this Government had proved itself to be themost sympathetic yet to hold office in this Parliament. On the other hand, the Liberal party and the Australian Country party criticize every action of theGovernment in carrying out its rehabilitationand re-establishment programme. They complain about the preference given to ex-servicepersonnel, but governments ofthe political ilk of honorable members opposite did not enforce preference until twenty years after the conclusionof the war of 1914-18, and there only applied it to Government employment. Those governments simply gave ex-servicepersonnel preference to stand at the head of dole queues. The ex-servicemanof this war owes no thanks to honorable members opposite.Men who fought in defence of this nation in the war of 1914-18 were too old at 20 and30 years of age, although many of them were skilled technicians, tobe givenemployment. Ex-servicemen were evicted from their homes andlittlewas done by govern ments at that time to safeguard their future, with the result that thousands of our best men were obliged to walk the streets unemployed at a time when materials and man-power were available in abundance to enable governments to do what they should have beendoing for the community by building homes and undertaking national works. Those governments merely said that they could not find the money required. They did not care how many ex-servicemen ware unemployed when the financial interests which the non-Labour parties represent said that Money could not be foundto provide work. I could not help but listen with interest to the views expressed by the honorable member for Henty about what this 'Government has done for servicemen. No onecan deny that the Labour Governliiiient has an outstanding war record. Its list of achievements is unsurpassed by that of any other government. On behalf of service men and women it has -(1) considerably increased the payto service men and women and their dependants; (2)amended the Repatriation Act to give increasedpayments and improve the other provisionsof theold act;(3) granteda war gratuity which is much more -generous than that granted after the 1914-18 war.; . (4) granted taxation concessions.; (5)provided protection for soldiers and their dependants under the War Service Moratorium Regulations.; (6)inauguratedascheme for settlement of soldierson the land, the provisions of whichare such as to ensure tha.t soldiers shall haveevery chance of success; (7) set up legal aid bureaux for soldiers and dependants.; (8.) enacted special regulations to ensure that soldiers' dependants shall not he evicted from their homes; and (9) passed the Reestablishment and Employment Act. Amongst other things this actprovides for -(a) preference toreturned soldiers (b) reemployment allowance;(c) ensurance of re-employment in positionheld priortowar; (d) giving every assistance to place soldiers insuitable employment ; (e) loans up to . £250 for establishment or. re-establishment of a business or profession; (f) agriculturalloans up to £1,000; and (g) technical and educational training. Naturally, after the disorganization of civillifecaused by the greatest war in history everything cannot be run like clockwork, but many of the difficulties that the Government has experienced in carrying out theRe-establishment and Employment Act, which is so comprehensive as to cover every field of activity in which it is necessary to re-establish servicemen, have resulted from the shortsightedness and the neglect of the parties opposite, when they were in power, to lay the foundation for housing and other schemes so that they could be readily put underway when the need arose. Honorable members opposite do not truly have the interests of members of the forces at heart. They are merely using them as a political football in the hope that they will win a few more seats in this Parliament at the general elections. They should give the Government credit for what it has done to re-establish ex-service men and women in civil life, instead of continually seeking to " knock " it. I am sick and tired of listening to honorable gentlemen opposite engage in these "knocking" tactics instead of giving credit where credit is due. Between the end of the war and the 15th June last, 454,411 men and women have been demobilized. With the consent of the House I shall incorporate in Hansard the following table, setting out the details: -


Only about 1 per cent. of those demobilized has not been placed in employment.. Many of them are, as is their right, awaiting the right type of job, and they could be placed without' difficulty in other jobs if they liked. That record is a great tribute to this Government. In this Parliament I represent about 70,000 electors. Of the complaints that I handle on their behalf few come from exservicemen. So I think honorable gentlemen opposite must manufacture a lot of the complaints that they voice in this House, allegedly on behalf of ex-servicemen. Demobilized men, have told me that they have been given a fair deal by this Govern ment in its approach to their problems. Naturally, isolated cases of dissatisfaction exist among ex-servicemen on account of misfortunes that they have experienced. They are entitled to the sympathetic consideration that they get, but they are far from numerous, although honorable gentlemen opposite would have the country believe the contrary. The trade unions have been attacked on the ground of alleged hostility to the interests of returned men, but let me tell the' House, and through it, the country, that the trade unions movement has been particularly co-operative in their re-establishment. The Trades and

Labour Council of New South Wales has set up a re-establishment committee, presided over by a man with an outstanding record in both ware, Mr. J. Hooke, who is making a full-time job of ensuring the re-establishment in industry of men who enlisted in the forces. The following statement, supplied by Mr. Hooke, shows the number of men from the various unions in New South Wales, who enlisted in the armed forces, and the general position in regard to them -

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