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Thursday, 28 March 1946

Mr Fadden (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) n asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -

1.   What system of priority is adopted in the repatriation of wives, children and fiancees of Australian airmen from the United Kingdom ?

2.   Are wives of officers of high rank given precedence ?

3.   Did any unmarried wing commanders travel home on the Durban Castle '

4.   Were their fiancees allowed to travel with them on the same ship?

Mr Frost (FRANKLIN, TASMANIA) (Minister for Repatriation) - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - 1. (a) First priority is accorded wives of servicemen who have been discharged from the Forces and who are thus in a position to set up housekeeping; (6) wives who have suffered long separation, even although their husbands may still be serving, receive second priority; (c) expectant mothers are given special priority, even although their husbands may not have been discharged; (d) special priority may also be extended in what are termed hardship cases, e.g., where the serviceman's health calls for the care and attention of a wife, or, conversely, where the wife's health may be such that delay in embarking may bring about hardship; (c) ordinarily, widows are considered to have the lowest priority of all, but as a result of strong representations to the Minister, it was decided that in the case of a widow with children and where the in-laws, in Australia, were pressing for an early passage and were prepared to provide a home, special priority may be granted.

2.   No.

3.   The commission- is not in possession of a copy of the nominal roll of service personnel who were on board the Durban Castle.

4.   The commission was not advised of any fiancees being on' board - hi fact it did not receive any intimation from London regarding this vessel. It was not a " bride " ship.

Mr White (BALACLAVA, VICTORIA) e* asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -

1.   What is the number of (a) wives, (ft) children and (c) fiancees of Australian servicemen, still awaiting transport from Great Britain to Australia?

2.   How many of (a), (6) and (o) have been returned to Australia since V-P Day?

3.   When is it estimated that all will leave for Australia?

Mr Frost - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   As at the 28th February, 194fi, the position was as follows: - (a). 2,40(5, (6) 501, (c) fiancees are not provided for in the free passage provisions as contained in the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Regulations, but where the fiancee of a member makes the journey at private expense and marries the serviceman within one month after arrival, the commission is prepared to consider, favorably, an application for refund of expenses, provided, of course, that the amount involved does not exceed what the journey would have cost the Commonwealth in the case of an eligible wife. In the circumstances, it will be seen that the commission has no knowledge of the total number of fiancees involved. 2. (a) 549, (6) 122, (c) I.

3.   It is not possible to form an estimate.

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