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Thursday, 10 February 2011
Page: 385


Mr SNOWDON (Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel and Minister for Indigenous Health) (9:39 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I am pleased to present legislation that will make a number of minor changes to the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act.

The changes will clarify the eligibility criteria for the MRCA supplement to ensure that members, former members and their dependants continue to receive their correct entitlements.

The MRCA supplement was introduced as part of the secure and sustainable pension reform package on 20 September 2009 as a result of the consolidation of a number of different allowances across portfolios into a new supplement regime.

Prior to the introduction of the MRCA supplement, pharmaceutical allowance was paid under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act as a separate ongoing entitlement to the wholly dependent partner of a deceased member or former member.

Since 20 September 2009, the provisions relating to the payment of the former pharmaceutical allowance component of the MRCA supplement have not adequately dealt with certain wholly dependent partners.

Amendments in the bill will make it clear that the wholly dependent partner of a deceased member who died before 20 September 2009, is entitled to the former pharmaceutical allowance component of the MRCA supplement where the wholly dependent partner has chosen the lump sum payment option.

The other amendments in the bill will ensure that the MRCA supplement multiple entitlement exclusion provisions in the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act operate as intended.

These provisions operate to prevent dual entitlement to payments under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act, the Social Security Act and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act that are the equivalent of the MRCA supplement.

Amendments in this bill will ensure that persons eligible for the MRCA supplement under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act may not receive additional equivalent payments under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act or the Social Security Act.

The bill demonstrates the government’s commitment to continually review, update and refine our operations to provide the optimum level of services and support to our current and former military personnel and their dependants.

Debate (on motion by Mr Anthony Smith) adjourned.