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Thursday, 8 March 1928

Mr CHARLTON - It must also be remembered that the members of the AXE. were picked men.

Mr YATES - The report refers to that. It reads -

It would appear from this comparison that the military death rate was very little below that of the civilian, and considering that the A..I.F. was a picked body of men, all subject to medical examination before enlistment, it was evident that some factor was present influencing this comparatively heavy mortality. One outstanding feature of the above table also was that in the age group, 25 to 35, i.e., the most active fighting age, death figures for the military forces were actually over two per 10,000 higher than the civilian rates. The inference to be drawn from these figures appears to be that the military forces should have shown a lower death rate than the corresponding civilians, but that the stress and strain incidental to active service produced an increase in pulmonary tuberculosis which brought the two death rates more closely in approximation.

In an endeavour to ascertain exactly what this stress and strain consisted of it was decided to examine a series of 1,236 cases of pulmonary tuberculosis, passing through the Repatriation Sanatorium at Mont Park, with particular regard to the disabilities suffered from prior to the development of pulmonary, tuberculosis. It was found that 40.5 per cent, of cases analysed were suffering from injury or illness incidental to and inseparable from ' their war sei- vice. The remainder de-' veloped phthisis, in one or other of the accepted forms of incidence common to civilian life.

The report in addition contains a graph showing the incidence of tuberculosis, and a table setting out the pre-tubercular disabilities of 1,236 cases. Two of the disabilities under the war group are - gas, hospital, 13.7, and wounds, general, 5.8. Those are the greatest percentages, and shows what effect gas had upon the soldiers. The report continues -

Fairly definite pre-existing tuberculosis was admitted in 3.56 per cent, of cases only, lt is not proposed to discuss this in detail, and it would appear to be sufficient to suggest that the definite war group of injuries and illnessesdid exercise 'a substantial influence in the subsequent development of phthisis.

In quoting that report and my own experience I have tried to visualize the sufferings of our returned soldiers who are afflicted with tuberculosis. If the outside public were appealed to they would willingly agree to shoulder the liability incurred in respect of tubercular returned soldiers. The liability is small and also declining. It is the nation's responsibility to protect these unfortunate soldiers, and this Parliament will be failing in its duty if one of them is neglected. I commend the motion to honorable members, and I hope that it will be carried by this House.

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