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Tuesday, 29 November 1938

Mr GEORGE LAWSON (BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND) . - I support the contention of the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) that some assistance should be given to veterans of the South African War. On various occasions, several honorable members have brought this matter under the notice of the Government. I am one of those who urged it to consider the claims of the veterans, who experienced privations and suffering in South Africa, and served their country in the same way as did those who left these shores to fight for the Empire in the Great War. A deputation representative of the South African War Soldiers Association, which has branches in the various States, recently waited on the Minister, for Repatriation (Senator Foll), who appeared to be sympathetic towards the request submitted. I understand that he forwarded it to the Cabinet, but, unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears. All that the Government has been prepared to do is to make available, in the event of the death of one of these veterans, the sum of £10 to cover his funeral expenses. That is not the way in which men who served their country on the field of battle should be treated. They should receive some compensation during their lives. They are not asking for charity, but only for the recognition J;o which they are entitled. To show how unfairly these men have been treated in Queensland, I may mention that, from 1899 to 1902, the people of that State, recognizing the good work of those Australians who served in the South African war, raised a patriotic fund of £32,000, but not a farthing of that money was paid over for the purpose for which it was collected. Not one member of the South African War Veterans Association - the Queensland branch of which is known in other States as the South African Soldiers Association - received a penny from that fund. In 1914, all that was left of the £32,000 was £6,000, and this was handed over to the Red Cross Society for the benefit of the wounded in the Great War. As the honorable member for Lans; has said, the number of the surviving veterans of the South African war is very small. If the Government is prepared to do justice to them, ample funds are available for the purpose. All they ask is to be placed on the same footing, in regard to the war pension, as men who fought in the Great War. They desire to be permitted to draw the service pension on reaching the age of 60 years.

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