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Friday, 15 May 1942

Mr BLACKBURN (BOURKE, VICTORIA) n asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that Australian soldiers who served at Rabaul (then German territory) in the war of 1914-18 are not eligible for service pensions ?

2.   If that is a fact, why?

Mr Frost (FRANKLIN, TASMANIA) (Minister for Repatriation) - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

1.   No. All those who served at Rabaul are eligible for the grant of service pensions' within the meaning of the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Act, if suffering from tuberculosis. One of the necessary qualifications for the grant of service pensions in respect of permanent unemployability and old-age is that a member must have served in a theatre of war. New Guinea is classified as a theatre of war from midnight on the10th-11th September. 1914, to midnight 21st-22nd September, 1914. Any soldier who served during that period would be eligible for the grant of a service pension in respect of permanent unemployability or old-age, subject to the usual conditions regarding unemployability, age and income.

2.   See answer to No. 1.

Royal Australian Air Force: Mails and Cables for Personnel Abroad.

Mr Drakeford d.' - On Thursday, the 7th May, the honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) asked the following question, without notice : -

Will the Minister for Air inquire into the reason for the lengthy delays in the transmission of mails and cablegrams to Royal Australian Air Force personnel on active service overseas?

I am now in a position to- supply the the following information : -

The chief cause of delay in the transit of mails for Royal Australian Air Force personnel abroad is the difficult shipping position in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. It will be appreciated that, owing to the present war situation in those waters, frequent changes in the course of ships and variations in the length of their stay at ports are unavoidable. Statistics show that the time taken in transit varies considerably, but advice furnished by the Postmaster-General's Department indicates that the normal time taken for transport of mail, partly by sea and partly by air, totals 80 days, and, wholly by sea, varying between 50 and 90 days. Some delay in transit is also occasioned after mail is received at overseas establishments for despatch to forward units, owing to the many changes and transfers of personnel to the several theatres of operations. Inquiries from the Eastern Extension Cable Company reveal that the time occupied in the despatch of cables from Australia to the several overseas destinations now averages two days. On receipt, they are forwarded on the same day to the unit to which the airman concerned is attached. In this regard, steps are being taken to accelerate deliveries by the retransmission of cables wherever possible by telegraph. I can assure the honorable member that I regard the subject of mail and cable deliveries as being of the highest importance, both to the sender and the recipient, and in that connexion every means of improving existing services and facilities is being given constant attention by the Royal Australian Air Force Postal Services Directorate.

Milking Machines.

Mr Beasley y. - Yesterday, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) asked me, without notice, whether I would consider a scheme of rationing in connexion with milking ware.

I now desire to inform the honorable memberthat the restrictions imposed by my department in relation to the allocation of rubber for the manufacture of this equipment have been lifted and investigations are being made in regard to the supply position generally.

Manufacture of Munitions.

Mr Curtin n.- On the 7th May, 1942, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) asked me a question, without notice, regarding the delegation by the Department of Munitions of greater power to the Sydney Board of Area Management to deal with local matters relating to payments for war contracts.

I am now able to inform the honorable member that the responsibility for the approval of expenditure under the munitions production programme is vested in the Director-General of Munitions. There is no limitation upon the authority which has been delegated to the Board of Area Management in New South Wales in respect of claims of expenditure incurred in the production of munitions under war contracts and for progress payments in connexion therewith.

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