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Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment Bill (No.3) 1994
Portfolio: Veterans' Affairs
Commencement: Royal Assent
The main amendment will repeal the trust covering the use of the Anzac Hostel and allow the sale of the Hostel. The Bill also contains minor amendments, with those relating to the provision of tax file numbers and the power to require benefit recipients and applicants to produce information or attend an interview.
The Anzac Hostel was established in 1918 following a gift of 25 000 from the Baillieu family to the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Fund for the establishment of a hostel for totally and permanently incapacitated ex- servicemen from the First World War. The hostel is located in Brighton, Melbourne. There were originally a series of Anzac Hostels in other States but the one in Brighton is the sole remaining Anzac Hostel. It has been described as being the showpiece of the Anzac Hostels. 1 The gift was held on trust by the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Fund, which was established by the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Fund Act 1916. The trust deed in relation to the Anzac Hostel provided that it was to be used for the care of totally and permanently incapacitated veterans.
In 1917 the administration of the trust was transferred to the Repatriation Commission, which was established by the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Act 1917. That Act provided that funds vested in the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Fund were to be administered by the Repatriation Commission on the same terms as they were held by the Fund. Following passage of the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Act 1920 (later known as the Repatriation Act 1920) the Repatriation Commission continued to hold the Anzac Hostel on the same trust as previously.
The Repatriation Fund (Baillieu Gift) Act 1937 was passed to alter the trust deed governing the gift to provide for the distribution of income from the gift, only part of which was used to purchase the Anzac Hostel, and the capital from the sale of the hostel, should that occur. The preamble to the Act provided:
And whereas the donors agreed that the gift should be applied to the acquisition of hostels for permanently and totally incapacitated Australian soldiers and sailors and desired that it should be a condition of the gift that when the purpose for which the hostels were acquired had been fully served the hostels should be realised and the proceeds applied to provide University Scholarships tenable by lineal descendants of men who had been killed or who had suffered total and permanent incapacity during the war which commenced on the fourth day of August, One thousand nine hundred and fourteen...
The Act proceeded to outline the manner in which, on realisation, the capital and income from the gift was to be distributed and provided that it was to be used for the education, maintenance and benefit of Victorian children of deceased and incapacitated soldiers for a period of 15 years after commencement of the Act. After that period, the gift, with the exception of any part of Anzac Hostel that had not been disposed of, was to be distributed to various universities to provide postgraduate scholarships for the descendants of deceased or incapacitated soldiers. Proceeds from the sale of the Anzac Hostel, which was to occur when the Repatriation Commission determined it was no longer required, were to be used for the same purpose. In the second reading debate for the Act, Mr Curtin stated that he supported the Bill on the grounds that the gift `can be availed of in the future for the benefit of those for whom it was intended.' 2 The Repatriation Commission continued to administer the trust under the original trust as amended by the Act.
The Act was repealed in 1973 by the Statute Law Revision Act 1973 which repealed a number of Acts prior to the printing of the 1973 Consolidation of Commonwealth Acts. One of the reasons for the introduction of the 1973 Act was the desire to repeal obsolete Acts. 3 There was no mention of the reasons for the repeal of the 1937 Baillieu Gift Act in the second reading speech or debates for the 1973 Act. The Annual Report of the Repatriation Commission for 1973- 74 also made no mention of the reasons for the repeal of the 1937 Act. The 1973 Act was passed with the support of the Opposition. As a result of the repeal of the 1937 Act, the operation of the Anzac Hostel reverted to being governed by the original trust.
In 1984, the trust deed relating to the Anzac Hostel was amended again to provide that the Hostel could be used for purposes other than the care of totally and permanently incapacitated veterans of the First World War. The Social Security and Repatriation Act (No. 2) 1984 expanded the uses for which the Anzac Hostel could be use to include the treatment of all veterans eligible to receive medical treatment under the repatriation scheme and repealed the original trust (section 29). Sub- section 28(2) of that Act provided:
If the Anzac Hostel is, in the opinion of the Repatriation Commission, no longer required for the purposes of section 29, the Repatriation Commission shall sell the Hostel and the proceeds of the sale shall be applied as mentioned in paragraph 4(c) and section 5 of, and the Schedule to, the Repatriation Fund (Baillieu Gift) Act 1937.
The result of this amendment was that if the Hostel was sold, the proceeds of the sale would be used in accordance with the intentions of the donors.
The provisions of the 1984 Act dealing with the Anzac Hostel will be repealed by this Bill, which will allow the Repatriation Commission to sell the Anzac Hostel and apply the funds raised as it sees fit. The funds need not be used for the purposes intended by the donors and as the requirement that they be used for this purpose is to be repealed it may be likely that they will not be used for the purposes intended by the donors.
In the second reading speech for this Bill, it is stated:
The intention is to ensure preservation of the heritage value of this historically important building and to facilitate ex- service men and women's continued use of the site as an aged care complex. To do this requires the Commission to be able to retain or dispose of the property. 4
Schedule 1 of the Bill will amend the Social Security and Repatriation Legislation Amendment Act (No. 2) 1984. The amendments will repeal the current provisions in the Act dealing with the trust governing the Anzac Hostel (see above) and provide that the Repatriation Commission ceases to hold the hostel on trust; is the sole legal and beneficial owner of the Hostel; and may hold or dispose of the hostel as it sees fit (Item 2).
Veterans' Entitlement Act 1986
The Act currently provides for the collection of information from recipients of, and applicants for, benefits. Section 128 allows the Secretary to require a benefit recipient to produce the same information, or attend an interview, in the same circumstances as proposed section 54AA. Section 128 provides only for criminal penalties for a breach of the section. Section 54A of the Act provides that if a person fails to provide a statement relating to their entitlement they will be guilty of an offence, punishable by a fine or imprisonment. This does not cover a failure to comply with a request that the person attend an interview with a Departmental officer.
Schedule 2 of the Bill will give the Secretary additional power to require a recipient of, or an applicant for, a service pension, income supplement or a fringe benefit to give information, produce a document or to appear before an officer of the Department to answer questions. The person is to be given a notice detailing the action they are required to undertake. The penalty for a failure to comply with a notice to the extent that the person is capable is imprisonment for a maximum of six months, or for 12 months if the person knowingly gives information that is false or misleading in a material manner (Item 1 of the Schedule). If such a notice is not complied with, the Secretary will also be empowered to cancel a persons benefit.
As noted above, there are a number of provisions in this Act dealing with the requirement to produce information. It may be argued that in the interests of simplification of legislation it would be more appropriate for there to be a consolidation of the current provisions to reflect the governments intention, rather than the addition of another provision dealing with the requirement to disclose information.
The Bill will make two minor amendments to the requirement to provide a recipient's and their spouse's tax file number (TFN) to be eligible to receive benefits. First, the power to compel a person to produce a TFN will be replaced by a power to require, but not compel, the production of a TFN. The result of a failure to produce a TFN, i.e. termination of, or ineligibility for, a benefit, will not be altered. Second, there is currently no provision dealing the situation where a person or their spouse does not have a TFN. Item 2 will provide that the requirement to produce a TFN will be satisfied if the person applies for a TFN and provides their TFN once issued.
1. The Last Shilling, Clem Lloyd and Jacqui Rees, Melbourne University Press, 1994.
2. House of Representatives, Hansard, 1937, Volume 2, p. 934.
3. Senate, Hansard, 13 December 1973.
4. Senate, Hansard, 7 December 1994.
Chris Field (Ph. 06 2772439)
Bills Digest Service 20 February 1995
Parliamentary Research Service
This Digest does not have any legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine whether this Bill has been enacted and, if so, whether the subsequent Act reflects amendments.
Commonwealth of Australia 1995.
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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1995.