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Tuesday, 29 November 1938

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) .- What honorable members have said, in regard to the treatment of soldiers suffering from disabilities is, to some extent, warranted. A few months ago, I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation a question on this subject, and I was informed that the returned soldier would be entitled to the benefit of any doubt as to whether his present disability was due to war service. 1 am not altogether satisfied that the act is, in fact,- being interpreted in that way. [Quorum formed.] I have a close personal knowledge of one man who suffered agony for years from the stump of a leg. He developed other disabilities such as nervous trouble, blood pressure, &c, though he is still a comparatively young man, and, when he went to the repatriation authorities for treatment, he was told that his condition was not attributable to war service. I maintain that there is a reasonable doubt in cases of that kind, and the returned soldier should be given the benefit of it. The department should .not quibble about providing medical treatment, at any rate. Even though a pension be refused, he should at least be given treatment, so that he will not have to put his hand in his pocket to pay for treatment in respect of disabilities that may, after all, be attributable to war injuries. I have brought some cases under notice, and, although hope has not altogether been abandoned, the final decision in respect of them is still doubtful. I am hopeful that, as the result of what I am now saying and what other honorable members who addressed themselves to this matter before me have said, the Minister will discuss this matter with the officials of the Repatriation Department, and again issue an instruction that the benefit of any doubt shall be given to the exsoldier.

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