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Friday, 11 November 1921

Senator ELLIOTT (Victoria) . - I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment, and I do so because I have had considerable experience of the difficulties in connexion with the payment to dependants of soldiers' gratuities and pensions. All sorts of quibbles have been raised as to who was a dependant and who was not, and whether there was any legal obligation on the part of the deceased soldier to support an applicant.

Senator Russell - During the war the Defence Department had to alter some of the soldiers' wills because they were so unjust in. effect.

Senator ELLIOTT - I know the Defence authorities did some extraordinary things during the war. In some cases they compelled a man to support a wife with whom he had not been living for years, and who bore a very bad character-; but I did not know that they went to the extent of interfering with a soldier's will.

Senator Russell - Only in some extreme cases.

Senator ELLIOTT - The Minister has admitted that the public servants have a vested interest in this grant which, he has told us, is made as a matter of course.

Senator Russell - I do not admit that. I deny having made such a statement.

Senator ELLIOTT - I understood that the Minister moved for the deletion of the word " Governor-General " in order to simplify the procedure, because this grant has always been made as a matter of course.

Senator Russell - I did not use those words. I said that the procedure was formal if an officer bore a good character.

Senator ELLIOTT - Apparently, the procedure has become so formal that an officer has a vested interest in the grant, and my contention is that it should be allowed to descend, just as part of his pay would descend, to his personal representative, and form part of the estate. This would get over any legal quibbles as to whether a person was a dependant or not.

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