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Thursday, 18 August 1921

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - It must be satisfactory to honorable senators who listened to the remarks made by Senator Gardiner to learn from the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) that this matter has not been finally dealt with, but is receiving consideration at the hands of the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Laird Smith). It would seem that this man just missed appointment in the Navy, and that the real reason why he is not entitled to a war gratuity now, is a technical reason ; he was not really commissioned in the Navy, and could not have become one by reason of his nationality. (But, in spite of his nationality, it would appear, from his record read by Senator Gardiner, that he rendered valuable and signal service to the Empire during the war. In determining whether he is entitled to receive war gratuity it would be well, I think, if the Minister bore in mind the fact that we are dealing with a foreigner. This man, before he was in the service of the Commonwealth, apparently held some land in German New Guinea, under conditions, from the then German Administrator of that Territory. If there is one thing more than another about which we should be zealous, it is a determination to uphold the reputation of British people in their dealings with foreigners. I hope this aspect of the matter will be taken into consideration by the Minister for the Navy when dealing with tha .claim. .There is not the slightest doubt that if it had been possible to appoint this man to the. Australian Navy he would have received an appointment, and there could then have1 been no question as to his claim for the gratuity. When he made his claim' the question of a war gratuity was not in the mind of any one. That matter was determined afterwards. When wo were dealing with that particular measure we could not be expected to advert to singular instances of service such as this man rendered to the Commonwealth ;.and the Empire. Had we done so, possibly some provision would have been inserted to meet such cases. There is not the slightest doubt, if such instances had come .before honorable senators .at the . time, no opposition would have been raised to Captain Strasburg receiving the war gratuity. I hope that the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), when he receives a reply from his colleague, will' be able to indicate that the matter has received sympathetic consideration in a practical form.

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