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Wednesday, 8 May 1957

Mr OSBORNE (EVANS, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Air) - I regret that the honorable member has not already received a final reply. Inquiries are proceeding, but they are not yet complete. However, I can give the honorable member an interim answer now. I think that three separate complaints were made about this young man, who was a national service trainee in the Air Force and was involved in a motor accident while proceeding to Newcastle from Rathmines. The first complaint was, I think, that his parents were not informed. Preliminary inquiries show that they were informed by telephone, either on the morning after the accident or the morning after that - I am not clear which. At any rate, within a comparatively short time they were informed by telephone of the fact that he had been involved in an accident. It is probably correct to say that they did not get any formal written notice, but I am not aware that it has ever been an invariable practice of my department to give written notice in these matters. It seems to me that the important thing is to give effective notice.

The next complaint was that he did not receive adequate treatment. He was taken to hospital in Newcastle and X-rayed immediately after the accident. His facial injuries were stitched up and he was returned by ambulance to the Air Force hospital, so it hardly seems likely that he did not get correct treatment at the time. The next complaint was that he had a broken bone in his face. He has now a broken bone in his face, but whether he got it as a result of the motor accident, or as a result of later events, is open to some doubt, as honorable members may realize in a moment. The final complaint was that he was forced to attend a bivouac when he was not fit to do so. The fact is that, some seven days before he went on the bivouac, he was asked by his superior officer whether he was in a fit state to attend or not, and he preferred to attend. The records also show that he took part in a passing-out parade of his unit and afterwards danced all night before he went home. Though I can understand the anxiety of the parents, from all that I have heard about this young man, he is an average virile, strong and healthy young Australian and fairly well able to look after himself.

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