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Wednesday, 17 December 1941

Mr FROST (FRANKLIN, TASMANIA) (Minister for Repatriation) - In the early months of the war, medical examiners took X-ray films of a number of soldiers before their departure overseas. These showed that several men whohad been accepted for military service were tubercular. Subsequently, these men were recalled to Australia.

Mr Rosevear - Some of them were absent for twelve months.

Mr FROST - The explanation is that difficulty was experienced in tracing them. Upon their return to Australia, they were again X-rayed, and those men whose complaint had, in the interval, become aggravated were granted compensation. Those who had not grown worse since their enlistment were discharged, but were not given any special consideration. After their discharge, they had the right to appeal to the War Pensions Entitlement Tribunal

Mr.Conelan. - That is not worth a drink of water.

Mr FROST - I could do no more. The men asked me to approve of their admission to hospital for treatment until the appeals were completed, but they are not seriously ill. They have simply proved that they have contracted tuberculosis.

Mr Conelan - Surely that is enough.

Mr FROST - Whilst I admit that it is serious, I point out that the men are not invalids. I could not order their admission to a sanatorium while the appeal was in progress. My powers in that respect are limited. Several honororable members have brought this matter to my notice, and the secretary of the Tubercular Sailors and Soldiers. Organization, Mr. Bentley Cooke, after discussing the subject with me, agreed with my attitude. Later he distributed a circular which asked, in effect, whether the Minister for Repatriation was bound to abide by the decision ofthe RepatriationCommission. I remindhonorable members that a Minister must abide by the law.

Mr Rosevear - Why not amend the act?

Mr FROST - I agree with the honorable member for Dalley that the act should be amended and that something should be done for these men. But until amending legislation is introduced, I shall abide by the provisions of the exist- ingset. In my opinion, the circular should not have been distributed.

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