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Tuesday, 29 August 1972
Page: 760

Mr IRWIN (MITCHELL, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Mr Speaker, you know I always ask short questions. My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation. Has the Minister's attention been drawn to an article in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' headed 'Service Pensions a Scandal'? Will he clarify the position? Is it not a fact that over the years thousands of ex-servicemen who had been refused repatriation benefits had these benefits granted subsequently when additional evidence such as hospitalisation and Service conditions was put forward? Is it not almost impossible for an ex-servicemen who has suffered the effects of gas to establish his rights and privileges? Would it not be better for a few men to get benefits they are not entitled to -

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to complete his question. I call the Minister for Repatriation.

Mr HOLTEN (INDI, VICTORIA) (Minister for Repatriation) - I have read statements attributed to Dr Hecker which reportedly were made in Sydney yesterday when he was making a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare. As these comments by Dr Hecker cover such a wide range of issues I do not intend to comment on them individually. 1 just make the general comment that it is always to be expected that when public inquiries into such complex and longstanding legislation as the Repatriation Act are being conducted opinions will be expressed for and against. As members of the House and the people of Australia will know, 2 inquiries into the repatriation system are proceeding at the moment. Both inquiries are receiving evidence from individuals and organisations. Both inquiries will present their reports in due course. When these reports are received the Government will give them both due consideration.

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