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Friday, 27 June 1941

Senator CAMERON (Victoria) . - Several cases relating to destitute widows of returned soldiers have been brought to my notice, and I wish to know whether any provision is made by the Commonwealth for their assistance. I have in mind the case of Mrs. F. M. Simmons, of Parkdale, Victoria, to which I directed the attention of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Collett) some time ago. Her husband was a returned soldier in receipt of a pension, and she also received a pension of 4s. 6d. a week. He enlisted for home service during the present war, but died at the St. Kilda Barracks. The widow appealed for an increase of her pension, but the appeal was dismissed on the ground that she was unable to produce fresh evidence to prove that her husband had died from war injuries. She is an elderly woman and cannot obtain employment. When I directed the attention of the Minister for Expatriation to her situation, he replied that the Government had no funds which could bc used for her assistance. The pension of 4s. 6d. a week which she is now receiving is far too small for her needs. Would not a pension for her be a fair charge on the nation? She is now dependent upon the charity of her relatives and any money that her two children can bring in to the home. . Until recently, both of the children were minors, and now one of them has enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. I should like the Minister to consider making provision for such cases. There .are not many of them and 'the expenditure involved would not be very great.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - An amendment of the act would be necessary.

Senator CAMERON - I have been, informed of that fact, but I ask the Minister whether there is any 4special fund from which some contribution could be made. It would not be a dangerous precedent to establish.

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