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Wednesday, 4 December 1935

Senator BRAND (Victoria) .- I congratulate the Government upon having introduced this bill. Every request by returned soldiers' organizations has been met. Australia has no reason to be ashamed of the provision hitherto made for the care of its war veterans and dependants. When the Repatriation Act was passed in 1920 the effects of war strain on ex-service men could not be foreseen As time went on this strain began to undermine the constitution of many men. The depression years also contributed to that result. Now they are prematurely aged, subnormal, or " burnt-out ", an apt expression which was used in this connexion when a bill similar to this was before the Parliament of Canada in 1930. Such men are no longer fit to stand in the front line of industrial life; they are only industrial camp followers. The benefit provided Wy this bill for this class of ex-soldier is termed a service pension, as distinct from a war pension, which is granted for a direct war injury or a diagnosable war disability. Obviously this service pension is intended for those men whose condition is attributed to the rigour of operations in a theatre of actual war. The new commission, after a searching survey of the soldier's record of service and medical history, should have no difficulty in deciding who are entitled to this pension. It is impossible to forecast correctly the number who will apply and be granted such a pension. I think the citizens of Australia will approve of any additional expenditure so long as the real front-line soldier benefits. Concessions forecast in this bill cover several other .classes of disabled soldiers. Since the second reading of this measure in the House of Representatives ex-soldier members of this Parliament, by deputation and personal representations, secured several important amendments which will considerably increase the original estimated expenditure of £350,000 per annum. I venture to say that no more humane legislation has been introduced into this chamber for many years. On behalf of the ex-service men generally, I thank the Government and particularly the exMinister for Repatriation (Mr. Hughes) for the sympathy and generous assistance given to our less fortunate comrades. Every request made by soldiers' organizations has been met in this hill.

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