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Wednesday, 31 October 1956

Dr DONALD CAMERON (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) .- The amendment is not acceptable to the Government for the reasons I have already given in explaining the purpose of the bill. The policy is not to apply all the provisions of the Repatriation Act to these servicemen.

I have already explained that. The policy is that benefits for members should stem from an incapacity which is due to their operational service with the strategic reserve in Malaya or Singapore. That is the whole crux of the situation. As I pointed out before, the members of this force are professional servicemen engaged on specific terms. We are applying extra benefits to those who undergo certain risks in connexion with a specific service. The moment they come from the strategic reserve to service in some other area, they cease to come under the provisions of this bill. lt is probably true, as the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) said, that the incidence of tuberculosis is high in the area in which these men are serving. That makes it easier, not more difficult, for them to have tuberculosis, if they contract it, recognized as a war disability. They can always apply to have it recognized as a war disability, even if it becomes evident after service, and they have, in accordance with the usual machinery, the benefit of the doubt and the onus of proof conditions. If, as the honorable members have said, tuberculosis is especially prevalent in the country in which they have been serving, the likelihood of them having their condition acknowledged as due to war service becomes all the greater. We do not consider that the provision imposes a hardship on members of the strategic reserve. As I pointed out before, what we are dein/; is not to apply the Repatriation Act holus-bolus but, for men with a specific engagement, to grant additional benefits. We are modelling the provisions on the Repatriation Act, though they are not wholly the same. Therefore, the Government does not accept the amendment.

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