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Thursday, 14 June 2007
Page: 71

Senator MARK BISHOP (1:53 PM) —The incorporated speech read as follows—

It’s a disgrace that the precious time of the Parliament should be wasted on legislation such as this.

In fact, I have to ask why such provisions in Acts are such that they require such amendment in the first place.

I would’ve thought that in this day and age, once a scheme had been legislated, sunset clauses on such routine matters would have been done away with long ago.

There are simply better ways of doing things.

This bill extends—yet again—the provisions of the Act for the operation of the Defence Home Owner Scheme.

What’s more, this is the second such extension.

And again we have the same reason.

The government is constipated and can’t get its act together.

Mr Acting Deputy President, this is not rocket science.

It’s a simple program for ADF personnel.

It’s been in operation for 16 years.

But as we noted at the last time this matter was debated, it’s now quite inadequate.

It’s also very unfair.

The review has also been years in gestation.

That’s now apparently finished ... yet it seems to be shrouded in secrecy, like everything else.

The Minister, though, has indicated in the recent budget that a new scheme Is coming.

If the indications are right, it looks promising.

The proposed increase in subsidy benefit levels is overdue, but will be welcome.

The ability to shop around between lenders is also a promising change.

Whether this removes the anomaly in benefits between those who purchase their own house and those who rent, is an equation we’ve not seen.

I will curtail my remarks in the interests of time, but let me make two points.

First, the delay in getting this new scheme drawn-up and legislated is unforgivable.

It seems to be like everything else ... way over time.

When materiel is the issue, it affects capability.

But here it affects people.

Our sense is that the concern for people-values in Defence and the ADF is improving. Slowly.

That’s good.

But wouldn’t it have been nice to have seen some swifter action here?

Second, we know that the biggest bugbear for ADF families is the constant postings across Australia.

So I wonder at schemes such as this and how they can be tailored to match that phenomenon.

If we’d had access to the review we might have been enlightened a little.

But the attitude seems to be that we in parliament get what we are given.

No room for discussion or consideration.

I just hope that ADF people were considered a little bit more than we have been.

We support the Bill.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.