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Tuesday, 28 September 1993
Page: 1256

Senator REID (3.05 p.m.) —by leave—I move:

  That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Veterans' Affairs (Senator Faulkner), in response to a question without notice asked by Senator Colston this day, relating to the establishment of a ministerial advisory council on veterans' affairs and related issues.

I am not suggesting that the minister ought not to have set up such an advisory group. I think the veterans community will welcome the opportunity to have greater contact with the government. Senator Faulkner's wish to establish greater contact with that community is probably genuine and it is certainly long overdue.

  It is a fact that some years ago Senator Geitzelt set up a monitoring committee in relation to veterans matters, but for some reason that was abolished within about 12 months. There is no doubt that the veterans community has not been well served in recent times and we would welcome what is occurring.

  I would ask that the minister, in setting up such an advisory committee, add at least one other group to it. It is quite a large group and I think the minister ought to be consulting with as wide a group as possible of those interested in the veterans community. In particular, I am referring to the Vietnam Veterans Family Support Link Line, which is a large and growing group of people involved principally as carers of Vietnam veterans and who have a very special knowledge of the needs of many of the veterans and what could or should be done for them.

  I really believe that the minister needs to hear from this group as well if he is going to be well advised in relation to Vietnam veterans in particular and generally on the needs of those communities. I put to Senator Faulkner that he consider inviting that particular group to become a member of this advisory committee.

  I shall not pursue this question right now, but since the minister is present I inform him that tomorrow I will be asking under the 30-day rule why I have not yet had an answer to my question No. 539 relating to the categories of Vietnam veterans in each of the prefixes SS, KM, X and SM of the veterans' entitlements of his department.