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Wednesday, 31 October 1956

Mr POLLARD (Lalor) .- All that the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) has said is very naive. He has told us that this force is raised on specific terms for specific purposes. But the troops raised to serve in World War I. and World War II. were also raised on specific terms for specific purposes. The fact remains that, as the years went on, certain anomalies became apparent, and it was decided that it would be advantageous and just to make more generous the terms on which they originally enlisted. Those more generous terms were approved by this Parliament.

Is there any reason in this age of enlightenment why we should not do the same for these men in the strategic reserve as we did for other men who were engaged on specific terms and for specific purposes?

Let us look at the reasons given by the Minister for not accepting the amendment moved by my colleague, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. ' Haylen). The Minister admitted that there was a high incidence of tuberculosis in the areas in which these troops are already serving. But the Minister qualified that by saying, "If it is true". He said, "I think it is true ". He added that the men would possibly not experience much difficulty in having their claims accepted. If that is so, why not grant these rights without any more equivocation and give those men the eligibility that has already been given to men who served in other wars? The whole thing is self-explanatory. The Minister says that because tuberculosis is prevalent in these areas, a man will probably get a pension, but on the other hand he may not. A good deal depends on the medical officer and on other circumstances. The Minister said that this is an infectious area.

Dr DONALD CAMERON (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - The honorable member should not put words into my mouth.

Mr POLLARD - I do not want to do that, but I think the Minister realizes that what has been said by my colleague is correct. It is an infectious area, lt is a tropical area in which hygiene and sanitation are not notably good. Men are away from home and their vitality is lowered in a tropical atmosphere. Their conditions are different from those under which they hoped they would serve when they joined the Permanent Forces. Most of these men, like many of us, believed that World War II. would end all wars. No doubt some of them decided to join the Permanent Forces believing that they would probably never be called upon for active service and would serve within the confines of Australia. Then the Malayan situation blew up and they were called upon to serve in Malaya. They thought when they enlisted in the Permanent Forces that the conditions of service would be of a certain kind, but they found subsequently that the conditions of service were altogether different. Surely the Minister does not propose to take advantage of that. Surely he will yield a point in the interests of simplification of administration and to assist the people concerned, particularly as the point would be so easy for him to concede.

Question put -

That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Haylen's amendment) stand part of the clause.

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