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Thursday, 21 October 2010
Page: 1066


Mr SNOWDON (Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel and Minister for Indigenous Health) (9:15 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I am pleased to present legislation that will implement an important element of the Government’s strategy to address homelessness. The Veterans’ Affairs Legislation Amendment (Weekly Payments) Bill 2010 will implement, in the repatriation system, a key reform of the white paper The Road Home: a national approach to reducing homelessness.

As part of the government’s initiative, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs will introduce an option of weekly payments to those who are homeless or at risk. Weekly payments for Centrelink clients became available in April this year and this bill will enable weekly payments to also be made available to those Veterans’ Affairs clients who will benefit from a shorter payment interval and who want to receive their payments on a weekly basis. Existing legislation requires pensions to be paid fortnightly in arrears. Amendments in this bill will allow for weekly payments in a move that is more responsive and personalised to the needs of the most vulnerable.

While this change does not affect the total amount of pension a person can receive, a weekly payment regime will be one element of assistance to those more vulnerable clients to help them better manage their money and will provide an opportunity to stabilise and improve their circumstances. This is another change that is a clear demonstration of the government’s leadership and commitment to review, update and improve support that is provided to those who serve, or have served, in the defence of our nation.

Debate (on motion by Mr Chester) adjourned.