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Wednesday, 31 October 1956

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (12:45 PM) .- I welcome the bill and wish to be associated with the remarks of the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm). I regard the measure as correcting anomalies which have occurred in the field of eligibility. I do not agree that there has been a system of priorities and that the lower priorities are now being brought in. I feel, rather, that the principle of eligibility is well established and that it is now a matter of bringing in people who have been omitted. I appeal to the Government to extend, at some time in the future, the field of eligibility to include widows of militia men who died during the war. I do not believe that there are many such people, but some widows who receive repatriation pensions are not eligible for war service homes because their husbands did not volunteer for overseas service.

In the case that I have in mind, the husband was killed by enemy action in Darwin. His wife receives a widow's pension, but is not entitled to a war service home. If the soldier had not been killed in Darwin it is likely that he would have proceeded with his unit to New Guinea and that his wife would have become eligible for a war service home. I feel that that is an anomaly. It has been suggested that the reason for not correcting it is that it may open up a wide field of eligibility, and that the purpose of the War Service Homes Act is to provide a house for people who actually served outside Aus-, tralia, or volunteered so to do. I point out that, under clause 3 (b), the definition of " eligible persons " is being amended to include any person who -

.   . was employed under agreement as master, officer or seamen, or under indenture as apprentice, in sea-going service -

(i)   on a ship engaged in trading between a port of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth and any other port, whether a port of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth or not;

In other words, a seaman on a ship plying between Fremantle and Sydney would be eligible for a war service home, but the widow of a militia man killed in Australia, though receiving a full repatriation pension is not eligible. I suggest to the Minister that, when the matter of war service homes eligibility comes up for consideration again, this anomaly might well be corrected.

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