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Wednesday, 13 November 1974
Page: 2300

Senator POYSER (VICTORIA) - My question, which is directed to the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation, refers to the matter mentioned by the Leader of the Government in the Senate concerning the death of an Australian policeman serving in Cyprus with the United Nations forces. Can the Minister advise the Senate what provisions exist for compensation for the widow of the Australian policeman killed, and any policemen serving there who are injured in the course of their service with the United Nations?

Senator WHEELDON (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Repatriation and Compensation) -This matter has been brought to my attention several times by Senator Mulvihill and it is, I think, a matter of serious concern. In 1973 amendments were made by this Government to the Repatriation Act which provide the cover for repatriation benefits for Australian servicemen serving with United Nations peacekeeping forces, but do not cover civilian Australians serving with those forces. In this context members of the police forces are in fact civilians. The benefits which are available at present to members of the Australian police forces serving in Cyprus or with any other United Nations forces are the same as those which are available to other employees of the Australian Government. Any benefits that would be received either for death in the case of dependants or injury in the case of the individual himself are covered by the Compensation (Australian Government Employees) Act. My Department and I have been considering for some time means whereby full repatriation benefits could be extended to the Australian policemen who are taking part in these ventures because it seems to me that it is a cruel irony that people who are engaged in what can only be described as military or paramilitary operations at the behest of the Australian Government should not be receiving the same benefits as people who are doing identical duties but are members of the Army, Navy or Air Force. The matter has not been concluded as yet. Some problems are involved in extending repatriation benefits to people beyond those who are actually members of the armed forces. I hope to be able to make an early announcement as to the happy conclusion of this endeavour in which we have been engaged now for some months.

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