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Wednesday, 10 September 2003
Page: 19804

Mr Ripoll asked the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 19 June 2003:

(1) Are Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel expected to carry loaded weapons everywhere in East Timor and have security arrangements around ADF military compounds recently been increased.

(2) Would the Minister confirm that the Government will downgrade conditions of service (COS) or the nature of service (NOS) for ADF personnel currently deployed in East Timor.

(3) If COS/NOS is downgraded, is this change going to be implemented retrospectively so that ADF personnel currently deployed in East Timor would have to repay allowances received.

Mrs Vale (Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Overall, operational circumstances experienced by ADF personnel in East Timor have changed markedly since the time of the first deployments in 1999. This has led to the appropriate relaxation of some of the security and local movement arrangements for ADF personnel currently serving in East Timor. Despite this relaxation in security arrangements, I can confirm that ADF personnel are still expected to carry loaded weapons for their own personal protection everywhere in East Timor. I can also confirm that there have been no significant increases to the security arrangements around ADF military compounds.

(2) Nature of service declarations are based on a set of factors that include operational, security and environmental hazards and threats. The associated conditions of service packages are aligned to appropriately remunerate ADF personnel deployed in these circumstances. As a result of the peace and stability the ADF has helped to restore in East Timor and in recognition of the improved security environment, the Chief of the Defence Force recommended that service in East Timor should be declared `non-warlike' from 18 August 2003. The Government agreed with this recommendation, but has determined that East Timor Peace Enforcement Allowance will continue to be paid at the rate of $125 per day for the current rotation of troops.

Consistent with all other `non-warlike' ADF operations the taxation treatment of ADF salary and allowances will change from 18 August 2003, and will cease to be tax exempt under section 23 AD of the Income Tax Assessment Act. However the vast majority of ADF personnel will qualify for a tax exemption under section 23AG of the Income Tax Assessment Act. Section 23 AG is a general provision that exempts certain foreign earnings when a member has engaged in foreign employment for a continuous period of not less than 91 days. ADF members serving in East Timor will continue to have comprehensive compensation coverage under the Veterans' Entitlement Act and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act, and a range of other benefits to support their deployment.

(3) No.