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Wednesday, 30 March 1966

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) - I did tell the honorable member, in answering an oral inquiry, that national servicemen or members of the Australian Regular Army would have their fares paid when on final leave before embarkation. If in a particular instance this has not occurred, I shall examine the case and advise the honorable member appropriately. I believe that some confusion is apparent in the early part of the question. In recent days, a great number of representatives of the Press, radio and television services have visited the 5th and 6th Battalions and other units posted for service in Vietnam. As a general rule, there has been completely free access to national servicemen. It may be worth noting, for example, that in Eastern Command 13 representatives of the various means of public communication visited the 5th Battalion. Only two public relations officers were available. Obviously, it was impossible for only two of them to oversee all that 13 newsmen were doing or to hear all the questions that they were asking. The story is very much the same in relation to Northern Command and Southern Command. In Northern Command, a party of 10 representatives of newspaper, radio and television services was, again, assisted by only two public relations officers. In Southern Command, where units at Puckapunyal were visited, there was only one public relations officer. So Press, radio and television personnel in Australia have had free access to national servicemen.

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