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Wednesday, 16 August 1972
Page: 144

Senator CAVANAGH asked the Minister representing the Minister for" Repatriation, upon notice:

(1)   In view of the fact that the Minister, in a letter to Senator Cavanagh of 1st March 1972, expressed the belief that the Independent Committee of Enquiry into the Repatriation Act had power to consider the limb-making activities of the Repatriation Department, and that a letter of 13th January 1972 from the Secretary of the Committee, Mr Williams, to Mr Jones of Appliance and Limb Centre Proprietary Limited, would appear to deny this power,' will the Minister inform the Senate of the correct interpretation of the Committee's terms of reference.

(2)   If the terms of reference do not give the Committee this power, will the Minister amend those terms to include such power.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN The Minister for Repatriation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   In replying to Senator Cavanagh I expressed the personal opinion that the provision of artificial limbs to persons eligible under Repatriation legislation would be within the terms of reference of the Enquiry being conducted by Mr Justice Toose. This is in fact the case. However, I also made it clear that the decision as to whether any particular aspect of the matter was within the terms of reference was a question to be decided by His Honour.

At the time I was not aware that Mr Jones had made a submission to the Enquiry. Accordingly, I had no knowledge of the nature of the submission, which related to the provision of limbs for civilians, nor of the reply to Mr Jones. I understand that the general principle is that, in circumstances such as those raised by Senator Cavanagh, where a question arises about the matter being within the terms of reference of the Independent Enquiry, Mr Justice Toose is prepared to hear argument from the person concerned.

(2)   The terms of reference for the Independent Enquiry were settled by the Government after very careful consideration, having regard to the needs it saw for the Enquiry. Any variation in those terms would be a matter for Government consideration when reasonable cause for further alteration is shown.

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