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Wednesday, 10 April 1946

Mr FADDEN (Darling Downs) (Leader of the Australian Country party) . - I have been in correspondence with the appropriate departments for some time about a travel priority for the wife of a member of the American forces, and I have not been able to get the slightest satisfaction. This correspondence, which relates to my negotiations and efforts on her behalf, has extended over months, and the lady has sent to me the names of Australian wives who have received travel priorities and passages on boats to go to England. This has caused a good deal of dissatisfaction, particularly to. this woman who has persistently endeavoured to rejoin her husband. I have the names of women who have obtained preferential treatment to enable them to leave Australia. I cannot get any satisfaction, and it is evident that preferential treatment and favoritism are being extended to certain persons. Australian women should not be allowed passages on foreign ships before the wife of anAmerican serviceman who desires to rejoin her husband in the United States of America.

I now direct attention to a letter which I received to-day relating to the treatment of English brides. This position should be closely examined in order that there shall not be a repetition of this alleged ill-treatment. The letter reads -

I would like to place a few facts before you of the treatment by the present Government to our English brides.

My wife is only now en route to Australia although I arrived back here some twelve months ago.

I have personally visited the Repatriation Department in Sydney on numerous occasions and have not been able to receive any definite information from them concerning the departure of the Highland Princess on which my wife and baby are travelling.

Although I had received a letter from a friend in the United Kingdom giving me details and the actual time of departure,I called at theRepatriation Department a week after receipt of this advice and I was informed that they had no official notification, but, they gathered from the press that the boat had left.

My next inquiry was to ascertain the date of arrival of the ship. The reply was, " We haven't any idea but we should know a week before it berths". I then interviewed a private shipping company and they were able to tell mo the route, ports of call and date of arrival in Australia.

Finally I was advised by Repatriation Department that the ship would call at Fremantle and Melbourne and thence to New Zealand. When asked what provision they made for me to meet my wife in Melbourne, the answer was, " We discourage this practice as much as we possibly can ", they also added that should I. go to Melbourne I would not be allowed to accompany my wife on return to Sydney.

I received a telegram from the shipping company to-day, Highland Princess now due Sydney16th April.

Judging by past experience with the Repatriation DepartmentI will probably receive a letter containing this same information shortly after my wife and I have returned home toNarrabri.

By to-day's air mail I received letters from my wife with several details of the accommodation and facilities with which they are provided on this ship. These include -

(1)   Facilities for drying babies' and their own washing is a piece of string in their own cabin.

(2)   In the one cabin there are five women and four small babies.

(3)   The checking of the babies' weight for the one Medical officer on board has to be done by taking the baby down to the kitchen and using the butcher's meat scales.

I view the whole business with utter disgust and as an absolute disgrace and hope by bringing these glaring facts and examples of mismanagement before your notice .that you will endeavour to see that these conditions are remedied for those- unfortunate brides who have yet to make the voyage.

I fully realise it is difficult for you to remedy the position but I know that it is hopeless to appeal to any supporter of such a government at present in power.

Trusting you will endeavour to take this matter up,

Mr Frost - Will the right honorable gentleman .allow me to peruse the letter?

Mr FADDEN - Yes.

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