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Thursday, 11 September 2003
Page: 19970

Mr Brendan O'Connor asked the Minister assisting the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 25 June 2003:

(1) To date, how many applications for the Anniversary of National Service Medals (ANSM) have been received from applicants in the Division of Burke.

(2) How many ANSM have been issued to applicants residing in the Division of Burke.

(3) What is the (a) average and (b) longest processing time for an ANSM application.

(4) Is she aware of complaints being made about the length of processing time.

(5) What steps is she taking to ensure efficient and speedy processing of ANSM applications.

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) In excess of 100,000 applications have been received nationally. However, when applications are processed the identification of applicants within electoral divisions is not identified. Consequently, this information cannot be automatically generated and a manual search would require diversion of the scarce resources now utilised to process applications, resulting in increased delays.

(2) As indicated in part (1), applicants within electoral divisions are not identified.

(3) (a) Six months (since February 2002) when applications were first formally requested.

(b) Up to 12 months based on the complexity of some individual applications and the time involved in determining eligibility.

(4) Yes.

(5) A number of initiatives are now in place aimed at introducing efficiencies and reducing the applications backlog. These include:

(a) the collocation of all Honours and Awards functions previously undertaken in Canberra, Melbourne and Queanbeyan to one complex in the ACT in February 2003;

(b) the recruitment of new staff to replace staff not transferring from Melbourne; and

(c) the planned introduction in August 2003 of a new application processing system.