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Thursday, 13 March 2008
Page: 1680

Mr GRIFFIN (Minister for Veterans’ Affairs) (9:13 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I am pleased to present legislation that demonstrates this government’s commitment to Australia’s veteran community.

The measures in this legislation represent another significant step towards fulfilling the government’s pre-election commitment to deliver better services to the ex-service community--and a fair go.

The bill will extend the income support supplement to war widows and war widowers who are under qualifying age.

The measure removes the requirement for war widows or widowers who are under qualifying age to have a dependent child, be permanently incapacitated or be the partner of a person receiving an income support pension before they can receive the income support supplement.

This measure will immediately benefit approximately 1,400 war widows or widowers who are under qualifying age and not currently entitled to income support.

It should be noted that the payment of income support supplement on the grounds of permanent incapacity will be retained, so that incapacitated war widows or widowers under age pension age will continue to receive their income support supplement as a tax-free payment.

This measure provides additional support for war widows and widowers to help them meet the cost of living.

The bill will also extend, in respect of certain single disability pension recipients, the disability pension bereavement payment. Currently, this payment is only payable in respect of partnered disability pension recipients.

Under this measure the bereavement payment will be extended to cover single recipients of the special rate and extreme disablement adjustment disability pension who die in indigent circumstances.

The bereavement payment is a one-off payment equivalent to 12 weeks of the special rate or EDA rate of disability pension.

The bereavement payment will help the families of veterans to meet the costs of a funeral.

Finally, the bill will extend the automatic grant of war widow or war widower or orphan pension to the widows, widowers and eligible children of veterans and members who, immediately before their death, were in receipt of temporary special rate or intermediate rate disability pension.

Australians are justifiably proud of our veterans and our ex-service men and women.

This government believes that the provision of robust services and support for the ex-service community is a sincere way to show our gratitude and recognition of the bravery and sacrifice of these Australian men and women.

The measures in this bill clearly demonstrate that the government is serious about its pre-election commitments to better look after those in the veteran community—and their families.

Debate (on motion by Mrs Bronwyn Bishop) adjourned.