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Tuesday, 29 June 1937

Senator BRAND (Victoria) .- I take this opportunity to appeal to the Government to grant a service pension to the South African war veterans who are in necessitous circumstances. The number of veterans concerned is estimated to be about 200. About 18,000 Australians took part in the South African campaign. Seventy-six per cent, of them also served in the Great War, and, therefore, 'are entitled to the benefits conferred by the Australian Soldiers Repatriation Act. The majority of the other 24 per cent, are not in need of any help, but about 200 South African veterans throughout the Commonwealth are unemployable because of advanced age, and (mental and physical incapacity, undoubtedly due to the rigours of active service. The Commonwealth Government has incurred little or no post-war expenditure in connexion with those who fought in the South African campaign. The British Government has met, and is still meeting, pension payments to South African war veterans and their dependants. The 200 men to whom I have referred are a "lost legion." The South African Soldiers Association in each State is not wealthy, but it helps out of its meagre funds those who need succour. As president of the association in Victoria for five years, I have firsthand knowledge of the distress amongst those men and their families. They often come to me and state their cases. As federal president-elect of these associations, I appeal to the Government to set aside a small sum in the forthcoming Estimates to provide for those veterans in need a small pension under the same conditions as apply to pensions granted to those who served in the Great War. By so doing, the Government will come into line with the Government of New Zealand, which does not differentiate between the two campaigns.

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