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Thursday, 24 May 1973
Page: 2574

Mr LLOYD (MURRAY, VICTORIA) - My question is addressed to the Minister for Defence. The Victorian State President of the Returned Services League was reported in the Melbourne 'Sun' of 15 January as saying that the Minister for Defence, prior to the election and when he was Deputy Leader of the Opposition and spokesman on defence and repatriation matters, had informed the President of the British subbranch of the Returned Servicemen's League that if elected the Australian Labor Party would amend the appropriate Act to provide war service homes loans for British exservicemen resident in Australia. I ask the Minister: Did he make such a promise in writing to the President of the British sub-branch of the Returned Servicemen's League prior to the election and, if he did, when will eligibility be extended to this group?

Mr BARNARD - The history of this matter, of course, goes back to the days of the previous Government when it adamantly refused consistently to extend the benefits of the War Service Homes Division and repatriation benefits to British servicemen in this country. Representations were made to me at that time advising that the then Government had refused such request. I indicated at the time that both the Prime Minister and myself were sympathetic to this request and that it would be examined. I have since had discussions with my colleague, the Minister for Repatriation, Senator Bishop, and he has authorised an investigation within his Department. It is hoped that the Government will be in a position to be able to make a statement concerning its attitude to providing additional benefits in this way if it can be done within the limits of other budgetary considerations. Therefore the decision from the Department will be available for the Government's determination at the time of the Budget.

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