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Tuesday, 15 October 1974
Page: 1700

Senator BROWN (VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation. I have noticed that the Department of Repatriation and Compensation recently has been referring to ex-servicemen as veterans. Is the Minister aware of this change? Will he tell the Senate why it is necessary, as the term 'ex-service man or woman' has been in common use in Australia for over 50 years? Does the Minister agree that such a change would be not only costly but also unnecessarily confusing to thousands of people in Australia?

Senator WHEELDON - I am aware that this has been done. Far from it being confusing, it was felt that this would help remove some confusion. There have been several changes in terminology. From now on those people who previously were described as ex-service men or women are being described as veterans. The term 'war service' is no longer being used. The term ' service ' has replaced it. The term ' war pension' also has gone out of use. It is to be replaced by either 'disability pension' or 'dependant's pension', whichever is appropriate in the circumstances. This has been done because of the extension of repatriation type benefits to people other than those who had engaged in what could be narrowly described as war service. There has been an extension of various benefits to national servicemen, for example. There has also been an extension of those benefits to people who served in Malaysia and Singapore and who were not in fact engaged in war but were engaged in various other duties on behalf of the Australian Defence Forces.

In fact, with the number of Acts and the number of benefits which were available to people for different types of service it was becoming increasingly complex to have a narrow definition for a whole range of people. As the benefits which are being paid are based on the same principles it would seem to be quite suitable to use this one set of terminology - a practice which in fact is followed in the United States, New Zealand and Canada where the word 'veteran' is commonly used to describe all of those people who are eligible for the various benefits. It is not believed that any additional cost will be involved. We are phasing the new terminology into the departmental documents as they are prepared. In fact, in the long run there will probably be a saving of expense and a saving of time in the use of the standard terminology to cover all of the veterans and the various types of benefit which they are receiving.

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