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Wednesday, 2 December 1936

Senator HARDY (New South Wales) . - I would like the Minister to explain why the members of the Repatriation Commission have handicapped themselves by defining what, in their opinion, constitutes a " theatre of war ". The act is perfectly clear and sets out beyond any doubt the definition of a " theatre of war Why did not the members of the commission reserve to themselves the right to decide in respect of each individual case what constitutes a " theatre of war " ? It seems to me that all they have done is to destroy their freedom of action in this regard, because in making a regulation they bind themselves according to it. This is not a vote of censure on the members of the commission - we want them to exercise their judgment; that is the purpose for which they were placed in their high position - they were appointed to administer the act and the act itself already clearly defines a " theatre of war ". The commission, however, without request from the Government definitely tied its hands by providing by regulation that in respect of the Suez Canal zone a theatre of war " shall only be that area east of the canal. That seems to be a most illogical decision to make. Why should not the members of the commission have the right to use their own discretion as to whether a man served in a " theatre of war " or not, and then make a decision as to whether or not he is entitled to a pension?

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