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Friday, 26 September 1902

Mr POYNTON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I wish to direct the attention of the Minister to what appears to me the grossest negligence, in condemnation of which I cannot find language strong enough. I was informed, on good authority, in Adelaide last week, that some of the returned soldiers have had to sleep in the park lands there because they possessed no money, though large sums were owing to them by the Imperial authorities, for which, in my opinion, the local authorities should, in the first instance, have taken responsibility, arid afterwards charged their payments to the Imperial authorities. Will the Minister inquire into the matter, and ascertain how many have not been paid? I understand that some who have been back for months have not been paid. It is a scandal that men should be treated in that way.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I do not know anything about the cases to which the honorable member refers, but if he will give me the names of the men who have been illtreated, or any other information upon which I can base inquiries, I will have the matter investigated. The Commonwealth Government is directly responsible for the payment only of the men belonging to the Commonwealth Horse, the States Governments having undertaken to pay the men despatched in the several States contingents.

Mr Poynton - Some of the men did belongto the Commonwealth Horse.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - In that case, unless there is something amiss with their claims, the military authorities are censurable, and I shall take prompt measures 'to deal with them. It is not because there has been any shortage of funds that men have remained unpaid, because the Treasurer placed £20,000 at the credit of the Defence department to meet all these cases. With regard to the statement of the honorable member for Macquarie, I have ascertained that the men referred to were not sent from Australia at all, but were members of the Johannesburg Mounted Rifles and South African Light Horse.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But are they not Victorians?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - That may be, but they enlisted in South Africa, and the department is in no way responsible for them.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did they fight alongside the men sent from Australia? That is the real question.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - That does not affect the responsibility of the department. If any one is responsible, it is the Imperial authorities. In some cases where Australians have enlisted in South Africa, and have been returned here, I have had them sent on to their own States, and am making claims against the Imperial Government for the expense so incurred. But I suspect that in the case under notice there is no proof that the men had any claim upon the department.

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