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Wednesday, 4 December 1935

Senator ARKINS (New South Wales) . - I support the request of Senator Brand that so soon as the finances permit the Government will give immediate consideration to certain tubercular claimants who deserve the most sympathetic consideration. It is admitted that extensive concessions have been conferred upon ex-service men and their dependants and, generally speaking, I believe that the organizations representing different sections are satisfied with the manner in which the Government has responded to their representations. Tubercular patients, however, are in a totally different category from all others as the disease is the most elusive known to medical science. It is difficult to prove that those suffering from tuberculosis contracted it as the result, of war service, and in many instances medical men cannot make a definite pronouncement upon that point. I know an ex-soldier, who, for a number of years was treated for asthma, but who, if brought into this chamber would be said to be in the last stages of consumption. This man, I am perfectly certain from a. knowledge of the facts, contracted the disease as the direct result of war service, but at, the moment I do nor know whether his application for the pension has been granted. Let us consider another and important side of the case. The wives and relatives of tubercular ex-soldiers have nursed them for many years, and having been in close contact with them over a long period, have themselves contracted the disease. Unfortunately, in many cases the disease has been contracted not only by the widows and relatives of tubercular men, but also by their children. I have been informed that the daughter of the secretary of the Tubercular Sailors and Soldiers Association of Australia and the son of the vice-president of that association have contracted the disease. This gives some idea of how widespread is this phase of the disease. Many sufferers who have not obtained any financial assistance from the department have been helped by the Tubercular Sailors anc! Soldiers Association of New South Wales with money derived from charitable sources, and I believe that since that association has been in existence approximately £48,000 has been expended in providing assistance to tubercular exsoldiers and to their wives and children. This is a definite problem which the Government must face in an effort to assist affected soldiers and their dependants. In other countries, and particularly in France, the children of exsoldiers receive greater consideration than do the ex-soldiers themselves. X-ray examinati""ns have disclosed that 40 per cent, of me tubercular ex-soldiers' wives in New South Wales - and I suppose the same applies to the whole of Australia - are suffering from the disease.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - From what source does the honorable senator obtain that information?

Senator ARKINS - I was so informed by the president of the Tubercular Sailors and Soldiers Association, of New South Wales.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Can the existence of the disease be determined by X-ray?

Senator ARKINS - An X-ray photograph clearly shows if the lungs are affected, and is, I understand, the most modern and scientific method of ascertaining the existence of the disease. There is also the further fact that every care and attention must be given to prevent its spreading further. I realize that the Government is doing all that it can in the present circumstances, but having come in close contact with tubercular cases I shall continue to agitate until even greater consideration is given to those suffering from this disease. Additional assistance is an essential national service to ex-service men and also to their wives and relatives who have spent many years of their lives in attending to their loved ones.

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