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Thursday, 8 March 1928

Sir NEVILLE HOWSE (Calare) (Minister in Charge of Repatriation) . - The Government cannot accept the amendment of the honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott), for it does not deal clearly with the position which has arisen. The honorable member appears to have moved his amendment in order to meet a situation which is outlined in a circular issued by the metropolitan branch of the T.B. Sailors and Soldiers' Association of New South Wales.

Dr Nott - Not entirely.

Sir NEVILLE HOWSE - At any rate the honorable member used- the circular to substantiate his case. The association, in its letter requests honorable members to support the contention that it was the intention of Parliament when it fixed the permanent pension for tubercular soldiers, which came into operation in 1926, to grant a permanent pension of not less than £2 2s. a week to all soldiers "who, since their return from active service, have been accepted by the Repatriation Department as suffering from tuberculosis due to or aggravated by service." In the early stages of our repatriation activities many men were sent to sanatoria for observation, often for their own 'protection. Some of them were found to be suffering from tuberculosis, but many cases were diagnosed otherwise. It is true that in July, 1925, the Government made provision for a permanent pension of not less than £2 2s. per week to be paid to men whose pulmonary tuberculosis was proved and was attributable to war service. This was done not by act of Parliament but by regulation. Instructions were issued to the deputy commissioners of repatriation to adopt the best possible means to discover whether or not the men who submitted themselves for examination were tubercular. But the letter which I have mentioned asks, in effect, that, because some persons who, prior to 1st July, 1925, were treated for tuberculosis and granted a permanent pension are still in receipt of it, though not now under treatment, all men "who, since their return from active service have been accepted by the Repatriation Department as suffering from tuberculosis due to or aggravated by war service " should be granted a pension, though they may not now be under treatment. I have discussed this matter with the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), and I am now able to intimate that the Government is prepared to re-examine every ex-soldier who applies for re-examination, in order to ascertain whether he is suffering or has ever suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis as a result of war service. There can be no doubt that the man referred to this afternoon by the honorable member for Ballarat is suffering from tuberculosis, but it is not possible to grant him a pension because it cannot be proved that his condition is due to or aggravated by war service.

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