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Thursday, 30 September 1999
Page: 9251

Senator SCHACHT (12:28 PM) —I will speak very briefly to the motion. I just want to draw attention to the fact that the opposition recommends a minor amendment be made to the Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 1999 which we believe would assuage some of the fears expressed in the committee's hearings by veterans organisations in relation to the proposal by the government to retest 1,750 existing recipients of the invalidity service pension.

We believe that this would be a retrograde step. We propose that those who already have it keep it and that the new test apply to those who want it in the future. We are willing to support the test the government wants. The department estimates that, when the new test applies in the future, at least 600 fewer pensions would be paid over time by the veterans department. We believe that the new test is reasonable, but we think it is unfair and unjust and creates great uncertainty for those 1,750 who already receive the benefit to have to resubmit themselves to a further test. Therefore, we will propose an amendment which we will debate when the bill comes forward. We look forward to that debate, and we have no opposition to the rest of the bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.