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Friday, 2 May 1930

Senator GUTHRIE (Victoria) . - Unfortunately I am not a returned soldier, but that perhaps enables me to speak on this subject with more freedom than those honorable senators who were privileged to fight for their country in the Great War. My experience of returned soldiers is that they are exceedingly modest in any references to the part which they played in that great fight for freedom.We all remember, when the call came for men in all parts of the far-flung British Empire, how our men rushed to enlist and go overseas to fight for liberty and justice. To the honour of Australia, 420,000 men volunteered and 332,000 went to the front. Of this number 243,000 suffered casualties, and over 60,000 made the supreme sacrifice. Let us never forget the price which our men paid. Many of them returned to this country maimed and battered; they are amongst us to-day, living monuments to their heroism. Many of them will never be normal again, owing to their war injuries and war experiences. Some are cot cases and large numbers are suffering from the results of wounds of various descriptions or from the effects of gas. To the end of their lives they must bear the marks of the war, and they deserve every consideration at the hands of the Government. These men are passing out from day to day, although the majority of them are only half way through the normal span of a useful life. They have given glorious service to this country. Their deeds of heroism were not eclipsed by the efforts of men in any other part of the world. And how is this Government treating these men? The culminating insult was the notification on the 1st May that the Ministry had withdrawn the principle of preference to returned soldiers. It has cast them out of employment. The Government edict was a May-day message to the " Reds " ; to the forces that have been governing and bossing the official Labour party ever since 1916. It is rather unfortunate that theLeader of the Senate (Senator Daly) should have made any reference to the attitude of the Bruce-Page Government towards returned soldiers, because its regard for their welfare was an outstanding feature of its policy. Mr. Bruce, the head of the Government, was himself a returned soldier and the majority of his colleagues in the Cabinet also were returned soldiers. By contrast there is not one returned soldier in the present Ministry.

The PRESIDENT - I must ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the subject matter of the motion which is the principle of preference in employment to returned soldiers.

Senator GUTHRIE - I intend to conform to your ruling, Mr. President. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Daly) referred to the Bruce-Page Government, and I am showing that the majority of its members were returned soldiers. It is surprising that the Minister should have made any reference to appointments to the late Government in view of the facts, for I repeat that not one returned soldier is in the present Ministry, although Labour candidates at the last election made lavish promises to returned soldiers in order to obtain their support. I have before me a green leaflet - I am surprised it is not red - entitled "Labour and the returned soldiers ", issued under the authority of the present Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) who was campaign director for the Labour party during the last election campaign. A paragraph in this leaflet reads -

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