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Thursday, 25 November 1971
Page: 3716

Mr Kevin Cairns (LILLEY, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Housing) - The Government does not accept the amendment for several reasons. If the amendment which was moved by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) were accepted, many servicemen would be omitted as being those who would qualify for an advance under the Act, as is indicated in section 4 of the Act. The amendment would also have the effect in the present circumstances of disadvantaging those who presently qualify under the Act for war service homes advances. The principal reason for which the amendment is not accepted is that the principle has been that the eligibility under the War Service Homes Act has been based traditionally on enlistment for -active service abroad or actual service in lime of war or with respect to warlike operations. These circumstances occurred when the serviceman concerned was exposed to hazards of a warlike nature and beyond those of normal peace time service. This is the principle of policy which has underlain this Act for many years and is the one to which we presently hold. It has been in fact the philosophy of the Act over 50 years. The amendment proposes to alter that philosophy.

Furthermore, the extension of this service in the way in which the honourable member for Reid and other members of the Opposition have indicated would have several effects. They would be effects of a quantitative nature applicable to those who presently qualify. As I said, these effects would be several in number. Firstly, a significant waiting time would have lo be introduced. We have been able lo gut away from having a waiting time as has applied in the past. A little over a year ago a significant waiting time applied - the waiting time then was for a period of up to 6 months. We have been able to get away from that state of affairs. The only waiting time that is appropriate now is the necessary period required for the processing of applications.

Also, if the Opposition's amendment was carried the appropriation would have to be altered. That is not an impossible condition. But if the waiting time was not to be altered it would be impossible under the present economic conditions and under the present appropriations to service those advances in the way in which they have been serviced in the past. For these reasons, and having regard to the philosophy of this Act which has been supported many times in this chamber, the Government does not accept the amendment which has been moved by the honourable member for Reid.

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