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Tuesday, 29 September 1942

Mr ABBOTT (New England) . - If the Government sees fit to endorse the principle, it must be careful as to what formula is adopted regarding operational areas. My warning should be heeded, or the Government will strike trouble. A few months ago no one would have thought that Sydney Harbour would be an operational area. The men who slept on the Kuttabul off Garden Island and were blown to pieces as the result of enemy action, never thought that they were in an operational area, and that danger lurked in the harbour.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), by interjection, referred to the claims of merchant seamen. I plead for, not only merchant seamen, but also naval personnel, and the personnel of minesweepers. They may be in an operational area at any time, though only a mile from our coast. We owe a great debt to our merchant seamen, and it would be a grave injustice to them if they were obliged to pay tax, while navy personnel were exempt. Like the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Spooner), I. consider that this matter is as full of points as a porcupine. It requires careful consideration. If a flat rate is to be struck, the merchant seamen should not be excluded.

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