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Thursday, 21 February 1980
Page: 306

Mr Barry Jones (LALOR, VICTORIA) asked the Minister for Veterans ' Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1979:

(   1) It is a fact that 178 Australian merchant seamen were prisoners of war during World War II and that 1 14 of them returned home.

(2)   It is also a fact that approximately 60 of these men are still alive.

(3)   Did these men serve in war zones during the war under circumstances of grave danger and high casualty rates.

(4)   Are these men not regarded as veterans because they are not defined in the Repatriation Act as members of the armed forces.

(5)   Can he say whether the Canadian Compensation for Former Prisoners of War Act 1976 eliminates the distinction between prisoners of war who were merchant seamen and those who were members of the armed forces.

(6)   What would be the estimated annual cost for granting surviving Australian merchant seamen POW's full repatriation benefits.

Mr Adermann - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(   1 ) and (2) Records of Australian merchant mariners who were prisoners of War are not maintained by the Department of Veterans ' Affairs.

(3   ) Quite probably, but not known.

(4)   Merchant mariners are not 'members of the forces ' for the purposes of the Repatriation Act 1920 and are not eligible to receive pensions and benefits under that Act. Separate provision is made for wartime merchant mariners in the Seamen's War Pensions and Allowances Act 1940.

(5)   The Canadian Compensation for Former Prisoners of War Act 1976 provides for compensation for the following groups: those who served in the naval, army or air forces of Canada or Newfoundland; those who served in other British Commonwealth or allied forces and who were domiciled in Canada or Newfoundland at the time of enlistment; those who were civilian prisoners of war (includes Canadian Merchant Seamen).

(6)   The estimated annual cost of granting full medical treatment benefits to 60 people would be about $50,000.

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