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Thursday, 20 May 1915

Mr MASSY-GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -

1.   Whether the Minister is aware that the equipment which the Department requires the nurses leaving Australia to take with them costs considerably more than the amount allowed by the Department?

2.   Will the Minister say for what reason the Department has compelled the nurses to get this equipment through two firms only in Melbourne?

3.   Is the Minister aware that this system leads to the nurses having to pay higher prices than they can get the same goods for elsewhere?

4.   Will the Minister take steps to prevent these two firms having a monopoly of this equipment, and allow the nurses to get their equipment where they can obtain it most cheaply ?

Mr JENSEN - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as fol low: -

1.   At the beginning of the war the then Director-General of Medical Services obtained prices for the necessary outfit for nurses from several firms in various States. The average was £15, and he advised that amount as the allowance. Even with the increase in prices caused by the war they can still be obtained for very little over that sum. The DirectorGeneral of Medical Services has issued no orders for them to take anything more than laid down by regulations, and has advised many nurses who have spoken to him not to do so.

On investigating the matter recently he found that an order or advice had been given in two States to take extra articles such as mess kit, which nurses do not need, they being arranged by the Department in Egypt or England. He has not been able to find now this advice was originally given, but thinks it was done by matrons now on active service.

2.   Nurses are not compelled to go to any firm, and many have made their own uniforms. Sealed patterns are available in all States.

3.   Answered by 2.

4.   Director-General of Medical Services has repeatedly told nurses that they can buy their uniforms at any shop they wish.

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