WHETHER COMMONWEALTH IS LIABLE TO COMPENSATE PARENTS FOR DEATH OF SON WHO ENLISTED IN AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL FORCE AS MINOR: MEANING OF 'FAMILY'
DEFENCE ACT 1903, ss. 57, 124(1) (t)
The Secretary, Department of Defence, has asked for advice as to the position of the Department if the father of a minor instituted a claim for compensation in respect of the death of the minor on active service with the Australian Imperial Force, the father having given his consent to the enlistment of his son for service in Australia only.
The only provisions in the Defence Act 1903-1918 relating to the payment of compensation in respect of injuries received by, or the death of, a member of the Forces on duty, are sections 57 and 124 (1) (t). Section 57 provides as follows:
57 When any member of the Military Forces is killed on war service or on duty, or dies, or becomes incapacitated from earning his living, from wounds or disease contracted on war service or on duty provision shall be made for his widow and family or for himself, as the case may be, out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund at the prescribed rates.
Section 124(1) (t) provides that regulations may be made prescribing matters providing for and in relation to the payment of compensation to wives and families of members of the Defence Forces as provided in section 57.
The word 'family' as used in those sections does not, I think, include the parents of a member of the Forces.
A father could not, therefore, in my opinion enforce a claim to compensation under the Act in respect of the death of his son on service.
At common law, a parent has no right to compensation in respect of the death of his son.
In my opinion, therefore, in the case under consideration, the Department is not liable to pay compensation to the father in respect of the death of his son on active service.
[Vol. 16, p. 243]