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Wednesday, 9 March 1932

Mr GEORGE LAWSON (BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND) . - I desire to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and the Assistant Minister in charge of Repatriation (Mr. Francis) one or two matters in connexion with invalid and returned soldier pension claims. Since my election as member for Brisbane, I have received numerous complaints from persons who have had their applications for invalid and soldier pensions - particularly the former - rejected. I have approached the authorities in connexion with every complaint, and it has been pointed out to me that the reason why the claims for invalid pensions are rejected is that the persons concerned are not wholly and totally incapacitated. I am aware that that is strictly in accordance with the act; nevertheless I contend that if our legislation is framed in such a manner that it debars those whom I know to be totally incapacitated from receiving a pension, something should be done to amend it. I know of one instance in which an applicant was examined by three doctors, two of whom were private practitioners, and the third the government medical officer. Both private practitioners certified that the claimant was a fit subject to receive an invalid pension, but the government medical officer certified to the contrary. In administering the Workers Compensation Act, the Queensland Government Insurance Office ordains that where there is conflicting evidence from two medical practitioners a third shall be appointed as referee, and his opinion shall be final. I urge the Prime Minister to have the Commonwealth Pensions Act amended so that a more liberal interpretation may be given to these claims, also that the honorable gentleman will issue a recommendation to the officers concerned that a referee doctor shall be called in when conflicting opinions are given, and that his decision shall be accepted.

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