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Thursday, 4 May 1939

Mr JENNINGS (Watson) .- Many grievances in connexion with repatriation matters have been referred to in detail by other honorable members during this debate. I have grievances to ventilate, but it is not my intention now to refer to them, because I feel that they would be difficult of solution other than under the system of tribunals and boards set up under the Australian Soldiers Repatriation Act. I support, therefore, the very constructive suggestion by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) that a select committee of this House be appointed to inquire into the grievances raised by honorable members. . I believe that such an inquiry would result in the clearing up of many misconceptions that exist to-day in regard to these questions. I was very interested to hear the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) refer to the position of the South African war veterans. This matter has been referred to on other occasions by the honorable members for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson), Lang (Mr. Mulcahy), and Balaclava (Mr. White) as well as by myself. If ever a class of ex-service men has been badly treated, in Australia during the last generation, it has been the South African War veterans. A very large amount of money was raised by the various States during the South African war for the repatriation of war veterans, but by some inexplicable means a large amount of those funds has been transferred into general revenue. That condition of affairs is reprehensible. Those funds were raised by the people in Australia for one specific purpose - the repatriation of veterans of the South African war. I certainly hope that if the select committee advocated by the honorable member for Balaclava be appointed, this matter, amongst others, will be inquired into. I support this proposal because I think that a thorough investigation should be made regarding the position of veterans of the South African war, and also because of the grievances expressed in connexion with repatriation benefits to ex-servicemen generally.

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