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Wednesday, 2 May 1984
Page: 1479

Senator MACKLIN —My question is to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. On 7 January 1983, Senator Durack, when he was a Minister in the previous Government, announced a new scheme entitled the 'war service, repatriation, rehabilitation and general scheme'. I ask the Minister: Why is it that when he came to government he said that he would be giving urgent consideration to that scheme and that ever since then every question put to him still results in the same answer, which is that the matter is under consideration? Is the Government going to do anything about that scheme? If the Minister is unable to respond to that question, what precisely is the problem which is causing the inordinate delay?

Senator GIETZELT —In reply to the specific question asked of me about the commitment which Senator Durack may have made several years ago on legal aid affecting an ex-service person, all I can say is that there was no provision in the Budget of the year in which Senator Durack made the suggestion, nor was there any such provision in the Budget provided by this Government in 1983-84. I have not, therefore, had access to funds for the purpose of providing legal aid. That matter comes within the province of the Attorney-General. Whether the Government in its wisdom sets aside funds for such purposes is determined at the time the Budget is drawn up.

In respect of a number of other more general questions that were asked of me by Senator Macklin, of course there are many schemes which my Party desires to see operating concerning veterans' affairs. But they depend largely on the availability of funds at the time the Budget is framed. Of course the honourable senator has not assisted us in that process by voting against legislation designed to recoup money from tax evaders, because doing so reduces the Government's capacity to meet its electoral commitments. Until such time as we are able to collect all of the taxes that are due to us, Ministers such as Senator Grimes and I who provide benefits for people generally in the areas of social security and veterans' affairs will have our capacity reduced to that extent.