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Wednesday, 4 December 1935

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) . - Having had considerable experience with ex-service men seeking assistance, I am pleased to find that the Government has introduced this measure which will afford considerable relief and remove many anomalies. If, as has been stated, 200,000 of the 600,000 men who volunteered for service overseas were rejected by the medical authorities it would appear that the examination was fairly severe. In dealing with cases in which there is any doubt as to whether disability is due to war service, I have always felt that the onus should be upon the Government to prove that the condition was not due to war service. It is almost impossible to determine whether the condition of some men is due to war service or whether they are malingerers. One man who came to me had been refused a war pension because at times his condition is normal though on occasions he suffers severely from shock. "When such men have approached me I have suggested that they would probably obtain more satisfaction or better treatment if they interviewed a supporter of the Government.

Sitting suspended from G.15 to S p.m.

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - The treatment of returned soldiers is a matter which cannot be mixed up with our political feelings. To a great extent that principle has been appreciated by all parties, and I believe that honorablesenators, when approached by returned soldiers, who have considered that their claims had not been satisfactorily adjusted, have had considerable satisfaction in making every effort to render them genuine assistance. Eor my own part, I always derived the greatest pleasure from interviewing officers of the Repatriation Department on behalf of a returned soldier or his widow, and I have received every courtesy from the officials. Unquestionably, they extend to the returned soldiers the utmost con sideration that the law permits. I do not desire to labour this subject, because it is one on which I am in agreement with the Government. I believe, however, that just as social progress is making lighter the struggle for existence both in Australia and in other countries of the world, so the returned soldiers will be treated more and more considerately, and their plight will be further alleviated as time passes. Experience has already shown that, with the passing of the years, they are enjoying greater advantages than hitherto, and I think that this tendency will continue in the future. Honorable senators will join with me when I express the hope that it may be so. I accord this measure my hearty support, and trust that when the finances of the country enable it to give greater concessions, the returned soldiers will receive better treatment.

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