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Thursday, 18 April 1985
Page: 1214

I: SURVIVORS


Senator COLSTON —I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Referring to an article in the Courier-Mail on 10 April 1985, I ask: Were some survivors of the Voyager, after it and the Melbourne collided, required to repay money that the Navy had given them to replace wages that had gone to the bottom of the sea with their ship? Are the reports in the Courier-Mail accurate about a gaoled survivor going insane and another survivor spending his life in and out of mental institutions? What support did the Navy give to the Voyager survivors, including medical and mental health assistance?


Senator GARETH EVANS —Claims by Voyager survivors for loss of personal effects, including cash, were, I am told by the Minister for Defence, settled by the making of ex gratia payments. The amount of cash claimed by a survivor was accepted as being the actual loss. These payments were made some months after the collision.

An explanation of the newspaper report referred to by Senator Colston may be that survivors who were granted leave after the collision were immediately advanced cash which subsequently would have been debited to their pay records. Insufficient details are provided in the reports in the Courier-Mail to enable identification of the survivors who are alleged to have been incarcerated or admitted to mental institutions.

It is the case that all Voyager survivors who remained in the Navy were entitled to full medical treatment for injuries sustained in the collision. Injured survivors who established eligibility received compensation by way of benefits under the defence forces retirement benefits legislation, compensation under the Commonwealth Employees (Compensation) Act and settlement of their common law claims.