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Wednesday, 2 December 1936

Senator HARDY (New South Wales) . - I invite the Minister in charge of the bill to consider a suggestion which may reduce the number of appeals now heard by the Entitlement Tribunal. Where an applicant decides to appeal from the decision of the commission to the Entitlement Tribunal, he fills in the prescribed form and appoints an advocate. The complete details of his history are not made available to him except at the place where the appeal is to be heard, and generally several days before the hearing. If the advocate is situated in a country centre, he must of necessity compile the evidence for submission to the tribunal on a hypothetical case. He has no opportunity to construct his case, because he is not able to peruse the precis. On the other hand, the advocate in Sydney is not so disadvantaged. For instance, a city advocate selected by a soldier resident in a country district to present his appeal to the tribunal could, with the authority of the appellant, study at the offices of the commission the complete precis of the case including all the details of the medical examination, the man's war history, and similar information. For that reason the city advocate has a big advantage over the country advocate to whom such information is not available. A number of appeals to the tribunal by returned soldiers in the country who are represented by country advocates, would probably not be made if the advocate were in possession of the precis because he would realize that a prima facie case had not been made out.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Or the country advocate might frame the case in another way.

Senator HARDY - That is so. This disadvantage to country advocates has been brought under my notice on several occasions. For the reasons which I have outlined, I suggest that, to approved advocates suggested by the Repatriation Commission, the precis of the various cases be made available.

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