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Tuesday, 14 May 1957

Mr BRIMBLECOMBE (Maranoa) . - Since I cannot see any clause in the bill which deals with the matter to which I want to refer, perhaps I may discuss it now. I refer to the position of servicemen who have been permanently injured during their service, but have been discharged from the Citizen Military Forces and are bed-ridden in civilian hospitals. The present position is that a lad who is permanently injured and is bed-ridden receives compensation and is handed over to the civil authorities for treatment. Although he was compulsorily called up, the Army ceases to accept responsibility for his treatment. I contend that that is not fair. These lads who are permanently injured should remain the responsibility of the Army. It seems that, when they receive their cheque for compensation, that is the last that the Army has to do with them. They are simply cast off.

I know that no provision is made under the Repatriation Act for cases of this kind to be treated in repatriation hospitals. Nevertheless, I think that provision should be made to enable them to receive treatment in military hospitals. The Army, of course, has no hospitals of its own, but some of the other services have, and I should like the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) to consider this matter further. There are not many of these cases, and if they were admitted to military hospitals they would be able to receive better treatment than they receive at present. I know of a couple of such cases in civilian hospitals, and I know that the treatment that the men are receiving is not half as good as that given in repatriation hospitals, although these men served overseas in the permanent forces. I urge the Government to have a look at this matter with a view to seeing whether something cannot be done to provide decent treatment in such cases, instead of casting servicemen off when they have been permanently injured.

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