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Thursday, 9 December 1965

Mr HOWSON (Fawkner) (Minister for Air) . - in reply - I take this opportunity to thank the House for its cooperation in agreeing to this Bill so readily, and to answer some of the interesting comments made by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder). First let me say that I admire the officers and men of the Royal Australian Air Force who originally did forego their share of this prize money. As a former member of the Fleet Air Arm, I got mbe. I agree that there has been a delay. I share his feelings about the fact that it has taken some time to get these things .going on the lines originally agreed to in 1953. However, in the meantime some of these funds have been put to good uses. The provision of bridging finance to those members wanting war service homes has been useful and has met a very real need for a number of people.

I have been frequently in touch with the Federal President and Secretary of the Air Force Association. I have tried to keep up to date with their ideas. Most of the proposals put forward by the honorable member for Franklin today are new and I shall certainly look at them if it appears that we will not be able to make full use of all the funds available. The proposition related to people in homes provided by organisations like the R.S.L. has already been examined. It has been suggested that we might erect homes for people covered by this Act alongside other R.S.L. homes so that the homes could be run conjointly. This would have problems but they would not be insuperable and the Trustees are examining the suggestion. The provision of scholarships would be getting away from the original purposes of the Act, and might require a considerable amendment of the legislation. The other suggestions he made are probably easy of solution and should be looked at before we examine his wider proposals. It is most useful to have these propositions put forward here. If, as time passes, we need further avenues for the employment of funds we can examine them. Now that we will be receiving annual reports I hope that the House will be able to prod me or the Trustees into action should there be delays in the future as there have been in the past. I feel certain, as a result of contacts I have had with the Trustees, that there will not be further delays to the fruitful operation of this Act.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee.

Clauses 1 to 5 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.

Proposed new clause 5a.

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