This article argues that the returned soldier, who has figured prominently in Australian historiography of war, should be understood as a site of collective memory. During the Great Depression, the Scullin government failed to remove preference in employment for returned soldiers, even though the Australian labour movement demanded the restoration of preference for unionists. Moreover, Scullin quarantined key categories of war pensions from the cuts imposed by the deflationary Premiers' Plan of June 1931. In the public debates surrounding these policy issues, the â€˜returned soldierâ€™ was constructed as a powerful representation of unity, national pride and sacrifice in the common good. These wartime values were now claimed to be needed as Australians faced another national crisis. Hence, even though individual returned soldiers were often affected adversely by the Depression, their privileged status as an imagined collective was affirmed.