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Wednesday, 29 September 1971
Page: 1677

Mr FOSTER (Sturt) - I rise to support the amendment. I have dealt with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) earlier tonight during the course of this debate and I want to draw to his attention a matter which I have raised in this chamber concerning the shortcomings of the Government in relation to the objections to the National Service Act and to the fact that the Government, during the operation of the Act as we know it in its present form, has failed miserably to make any provisions for objection to service on compassionate grounds. Let me relate to the Minister the case of a widow with 8 children, 6 of whom were going to school. The eldest child who was 19 years of age was selected out of the barrel for national service.

I made strong representations on behalf of this distressed woman who was losing the eldest child of her family under the National Service Act. The previous Minis ter for Labour and National Service, now the Treasurer (Mr Snedden), who is overseas, wrote me great long letters which, of course, contained nothing. He pointed out on a number of occasions that there was just no provision under the Act for a lad to be released ' from his responsibilities to the Government on compassionate grounds. I notice that the Minister has now gone across to the departmental representatives in the chamber. I can only hope that he has received confirmation from his departmental officers that what I am saying is absolutely true. Here again in amending this Act to save its face it has still neglected to pay sufficient and proper regard to the human element in applications for exemption on compassionate grounds. Let me relate another case in which a host of letters were sent by the then Minister for Labour and National Service, one Mr Snedden. It concerned a family made up of a mother and her 3 sons. Two of them had already been to Vietnam. Then the third and youngest son was called up. The mother, who was bringing the family up on her own. again appealed for assistance.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbert) - Order! I draw the honourable member's attention to the fact that the proposed clause deals with conscientious objection and not exemption on compassionate grounds. I ask the honourable member to come back to the subject.

Mr FOSTER - I thought I may get pulled up over that one. Apparently that is what the Minister was whispering about. The proposed clause deals with conscientious objectors. Is there not a degree of conscience in a person's right to. object on behalf of a member of his. .family on compassionate grounds? Under what other clause can I speak on this matter in this debate in the Committee stage? I will conclude on this note because the Government has not the courage to include in this Bill measures which would enable me to speak about exemption on compassionate grounds. You, Mr Deputy Chairman, have said that I have no right to address the House on this measure, merely because of the neglect of the Government and the Minister in the preparation of the Bill.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member may. move an amendment if he wishes.

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