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Thursday, 28 November 1985
Page: 2479

Senator MACKLIN(3.45) —I accept the propositions Senator Lewis has put about Vietnam. I think he has put them cogently and very well, to the point where he has answered all the problems I had enumerated in relation to what the Minister was saying. I think the Minister will certainly regret some of the things he has put on the record today. Veterans include not only Australians of South Vietnamese origin, they also include Americans. An Australian citizen here, my colleague Senator Sanders, is of American origin. He did not fight in Vietnam, he fought in Korea. He was lucky that he fought in Korea because under this Bill he will still end up receiving benefits as an Australian citizen. As a member of the Senate he will be entitled to benefits because he fought in Korea. However, if he had fought in Vietnam he would not be so entitled. We are talking about people who may not have come through the types of horrors Senator Lewis is talking about, people who have been in the war, who have fought with Australians and commanded Australians in the field. They may come here with every bit of their documentation. They may be able to refer to documentation in the United States. These people are also being excluded.

Let us be very clear. We are not talking only about people who will cause administrative difficulties for the bureaucrats. We are talking about people who will cause no administrative difficulties. They have all the documentation. Many South Vietnamese I have met would not cause any administrative difficulties at all because they have fairly extensive documentation. Not all of them came to Australia via the path Senator Lewis was talking about. Some of them came with extensive documentation. They will be able to present that documentation if they are simply allowed to be treated as any other person is treated. Senator Lewis's proposition is reasonable. They have to go through every hurdle that every Australian citizen has to go through. I am merely saying, as I believe Senator Lewis is saying: Let us treat equally every Australian citizen who was an ally of ours and who fought with Australians in an operational area. Let us not say that those who served before 1 September 1957 are fine but that those who served afterwards are not.