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Wednesday, 19 May 1920

Mr BRUCE (Flinders) .- As I understood the position, the prescribed authority was to have power in certain cases to withhold the payment of the gratuity from a soldier, and give it to a wife whom he had deserted, or to some one dependent on him whom it was his duty to support, and whom he was not supporting. I am surprised at the suggestion that the prescribed authority shall determine the rights of different persons in the payment of gratuity moneys. I quite agree that a person whom the soldier is morally bound to support, and whom he has not supported, should under parliamentary sanction receive the gratuity; 'but . I am not prepared to place the soldier in a different position from other members of the community in regard to ordinary civil rights. If a man has been defrauded by another who has money in a bank, he cannot make good his rights without invoking the assistance of the law, and any person having claims on a soldier should assert them through the proper channels. The suggestion that the prescribed authority should settle such matters is one of the most dangerous that I have heard.

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