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Thursday, 17 October 1996
Page: 4435

Senator O'CHEE(4.28 p.m.) —I think the Minister for Veterans' Affairs (Mr Scott) should be congratulated on this statement. I think it is important to note that changing demographics in Australia over the last 10 or 15 years have meant that many of our veterans who may have lived and worked in city areas have moved to areas outside capital cities. That is why it is important that the government has done what it has done, which is to make the statement and make it very clear the way in which it intends to deal with the issue of veterans who live in regional and country Australia.

I will give senators some examples of the sorts of problems that we are facing in terms of delivering services to veterans. Look for example at the state of Queensland. Senator Hogg would be aware of the number of retirees from both Brisbane and interstate who have moved to the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Hervey Bay or Cairns and the difficulty in providing services to them, be they medical or other services. That is why what the government has done is very important and why we need to focus on getting some real outcomes.

One of the problems we had with the previous government was that they made a lot of noise about looking after veterans but when it came to delivering services, particularly to veterans outside the capital city areas, it did not happen. One of the consequences of having a Minister for Veterans' Affairs such as Minister Scott who lives outside a capital city is that he is acutely aware of the problems that are being experienced. I think Mr Scott deserves the congratulations of both sides for what he has done. I seek leave to continue my remarks.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Calvert) —Order! It being 4.30 p.m., the Senate should proceed to general business. With the concurrence of the Senate, I suggest that we conclude the tabling of documents first.

Leave granted.