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Wednesday, 4 December 1935

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - in reply - I can only express gratification on the part of the Government at the reception accorded to this bill by honorable senators of all political parties. Various subjects have been referred to which can be more appropriately discussed in committee. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) said that this measure is belated. It is all very well to talk about the improved position of the Commonwealth, but we still have a financial skeleton in the cupboard. While this is present, we must proceed warily, lest through reckless generosity the financial equilibrium be disturbed and those who are now receiving the bounty of the Australian people be later placed in a less fortunate position. Prudence is absolutely essential, not only in the interests of the community as a whole, but particularly in the interests of the classes of persons whom the Government is endeavouring to assist. It would, indeed, be painful if anything should occur in the economic structure of Australia which would necessitate any reduction or whittling away of the privileges which this legislation confers on returned soldiers, and which have been so justly earned by them. The bill which has been so well received by the Senate has had the consideration of the Government for a considerable time, especially during the last few weeks in the light of the representations to which Senator Brand referred, and the concessions which it makes represent the utmost limit to which the Government is prepared to go. This is, in fact, the last word that the Government is able to say on this matter, and I ask honorable senators to accept the bill in thai spirit. I endorse the statement made by Senator Brand that the cost may be even greater than that which I estimated in my explanatory speech this morning. The matters raised by Senator Hardy can be best dealt with in committee, but I agree with the honorable senator that the information which has been placed before this chamber, discloses the terrible toll that the Great War is taking of the manhood of the world.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 (Definitions).

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