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Friday, 2 August 1946

Mr FORDE (Capricornia.) (Minister for the. Army) . - This morning, a question was raised in regard to the repayment of advances that had been made to Australian soldiers, when they were released from captivity. I have since been able to go into the matter. When all Australian soldiers were released from captivity, their pay earnings continued asthey had done when they were in captivity, and they then became eligible to draw pay in the same manner as all other serving soldiers. The amounts referred to represent pay drawn by the soldiers from British paymasters, acting on behalf of the Commonwealth Government. The amounts advanced to Australian soldiers totalled £37, SOO, and a claim was duly received from the British Government for this amount, supported by the acquittances on normal pay sheets given by the Australian soldiers who had drawn their pay in that manner. The amount of £37,800 has been paid by the Australian Government to the British Government. Of the total, £22,S0O was accounted for by entries that had been made in the soldiers' pay- books by .the British paymasters at the time of payment. Where the Australian soldier could not produce the. Australian pay-book, a special " green " pay-book was provided by the British paymaster, in which entries were effected of the payments as they were made. In a number of instances, " green " pay-books were not handed in by the personnel concerned to Australian paymasters; consequently the amounts received by the personnel were not brought to account when the soldiers' services were terminated. These amounts represent £15,000 o.f the total of £37, SOO paid by the British paymasters. Whilst the amounts in question ure properly recoverable from the ex-soldiers concerned, I have issued the instruction that where the soldier has been discharged and the final payment has been effected, recoveries are no't to be made of any amounts received from British paymasters at the time when the personnel were released. That refers to the prisoners of war who were returned from Singapore], and in regard to whom certain complaints have been made.

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