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Thursday, 14 November 1985
Page: 2169

Senator RICHARDSON —Is the Minister for Veterans' Affairs aware of an article headed `Diggers go to war over changes to compensation' which appeared in the Sydney Daily Mirror on 12 November 1985? This article refers to the formation of the defence and ex-service party, headed by a Mr Andrew Hanley, whose purpose is to elect a senator, presumably himself, to represent New South Wales veterans. Will the Minister indicate the Government's reaction to the formation of this new party?

Senator GIETZELT —I am aware of the article referred to by Senator Richardson. A Mr Hanley is reported in the newspaper as suggesting the establishment of a breakaway ex-service group because he is dissatisfied with the performance of the Government and the Opposition in respect of ex-service matters. I am advised that he was the secretary of a group that attempted a breakaway some time ago and that he did not succeed, although he seems to believe that in some way or other he would be able to marshal 540,000 votes, which would be sufficient to have an ex-service representative elected to the national Parliament by the voters in New South Wales. The purpose of this move is to increase very considerably the chances of overcoming what he claims are deficiencies in respect of services and facilities for veterans. How he would achieve that as a single member of the Senate surprises me and I am sure it would surprise even the veteran community. No single person could provide sufficient leadership, finances or facilities that would enable government to be provided with the funds that he seeks. It is another case of a person seeking to capitalise on some of the stress that has been caused by the exaggeration in respect of the Veterans' Entitlement Bill. It would be a pity if he did not allow the Parliament to deal with this Bill and then form a judgment about the way in which the Parliament has responded to its obligations to veterans.