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Thursday, 11 September 1958


Mr MAKIN (Bonython) .- There are two matters that I wish to bring briefly to the notice of the committee. They concern the Repatriation Department and the -War Service Homes Division. I do not propose to weary the committee with full details of these two matters, because I shall give that information to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) when I interview him at a later stage. But I think honorable members should be aware of some of the .anomalies that exist in the application of the Repatriation Act and the War Service Homes Act.

Last week, the case of an ex-serviceman was brought to my notice. This man, by reason of -his war service, had to obtain hospital treatment. He was discharged 100 per cent, incapacitated. Subsequently he returned to hospital for another thirteen months. He was ultimately classified as a " B " pension with 100 per cent, disability. This man is anxious to obtain free medical treatment for his wife, which is .'provided for under the Repatriation Act, but he is disqualified because -he -did not apply for this free medical treatment before October, 1955. He was not aware that any one who did not apply before October, 1955, would be excluded from the provisions of the Re patriation Act so far as -they concerned free medical treatment for pensioners' wives. On the one hand, a man who notified the .department prior to October, 1955, can obtain free medical treatment for his wife, while on the other hand, another man with .possibly longer and more meritorious service .cannot obtain .-this free medical treatment because he was not aware that -he had to apply before October, 1955. That is an invidious distinction to make between two ex-servicemen.

Turning now to the question of war service -homes, I have here a certificate of discharge of a man who served in the forces for -two years and -307 days. He was discharged medically unfit for service. His certificate of discharge indicates that he had continuous full-time service, and that after deducting non-effective service, he served for 1,037 days, including active service 'for 541 days in Australia, but no active service .outside Australia. However, he was committed to undertake active service outside Australia if required. He is now denied a war service home because he did not see service outside Australia.


Mr Bowden - The honorable member stated 'that , the ex-serviceman 'was in an operational area in Australia, which would make him eligible for a war service home.


Mr MAKIN - Well, 'this man has assured me that he cannot get a war service home. He has told me that two men of his acquaintance, one who served in the Army, and one who served in the Air Force, but who have never been outside Australia, are to-day living in war service homes. How can the Government justify that anomaly? I shall make available to the Minister for Repatriation and .the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) full particulars regarding -the matters I have raised. What applies to one man under a .given set of circumstances should apply with equal force to all others with similar qualifications, but apparently this is not so. I trust that the responsible Ministers will take some action to remedy the injustices that I have outlined.







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