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Thursday, 28 October 2010
Page: 1040

Senator FEENEY (Parliamentary Secretary for Defence) (1:10 PM) —The Veterans’ Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2010 will improve the support provided to our veterans, members and their dependants. The improved support includes giving veterans and service members more time to make claims for non-treatment related travel expenses. This involves extending from three to 12 months the time limit within which such claims must be lodged. Amendments in the bill will make it clear that, as intended, compensation will continue to be payable to eligible members where an initial war or defence caused injury or disease is aggravated or materially contributed to by service under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act. The bill will also ensure that the payment of a pension to the dependant of a veteran who was a prisoner of war will continue, as originally intended after the commencement of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act in 2004.

Other changes made by the bill will protect the interests of compensation recipients under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act by requiring that certain compensation payments be made to an account maintained in the compensation recipient’s name. The bill will also enable Victoria Cross and decoration allowance recipients to receive both Victoria Cross or decoration allowances under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act and a Victoria Cross or decoration allowance or annuity from a foreign country.

The bill will ensure that the Australian Protective Service officers involved in patrolling the exclusion zone at Maralinga between 1984 and 1988 are covered by the Australian Participants in British Nuclear Tests (Treatment) Act.

Other changes in the bill will enable Defence Service Homes Insurance to contribute to the cost of providing emergency services in New South Wales through the payment of a state emergency services levy. The levy will be collected from Defence Service Homes Insurance policy holders and remitted to the New South Wales government.

The bill includes minor changes to improve the operation of the Specialist Medical Review Council, firstly, by making it clear that the Specialist Medical Review Council may review a decision of the Repatriation Medical Authority not to amend a statement of principles; and, secondly, by enabling the Specialist Medical Review Council to review both versions of a statement of principles that relate to a particular condition, even if an applicant has requested a review of only one of the statements of principles.

Finally, the bill will enable certain entities under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act to specify the manner in which notices and other documents may be served. This will ensure that the legal effect of such notices and documents is protected.

The changes made by the bill will enhance the services and support we provide to our current and former military personnel and their families.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.