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VETERANS' AFFAIRS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (MILITARY COMPENSATION REVIEW AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL 2013

Order of the day read for the adjourned debate on the motion of the Minister for Finance and Deregulation (Senator Wong)—That this bill be now read a second time.

Debate resumed.

Limitation of debate: The time allotted for the consideration of this bill expired.

Question—That this bill be now read a second time—put and passed.

Bill read a second time.

Document: Senator Wong tabled the following document:

 Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (Military Compensation Review and Other Measures) Bill 2013—Administrative protocols for determining claims under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004.

The following amendments circulated by Senator Xenophon were negatived:

 Clause 2, page 2 (at the end of the table), add:

9. Schedules 17 and 181 January 2014.

Page 82 (after line 25), at the end of the bill, add:

 

Schedule 17—Further amendments

 

Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004

 1 After section 333

  Insert:

 

333A Liability for claim must be determined within 120 days in most cases

   Liability for claim must be determined within 120 days in most cases

  (1) Subject to subsection (2) and notwithstanding any other provision of this Act or any other law, the Commission must determine whether the Commission accepts liability for the claim in writing in accordance with this Act within 120 days of the date that the claim was given to the Commission.

   
Note: The Commission must determine whether it accepts liability for the claim within 120 days of the date that the claim was given to the Commission. The time limit in this subsection applies only for the purposes of determining whether the Commission accepts liability and does not impact the time for calculating the amount of damages or determining the assistance that will be provided. The Commission must determine the claim within the shortest reasonable amount of time.

   Extension of time when further information required

  (2) If, in exceptional circumstances, the Commission requires further information about the claim, the Commission may seek further information in writing from the person making the claim. Where this subsection applies, the Commission is required to determine whether the Commission accepts liability for the claim in writing in accordance with this Act within 180 days of the date that the claim was given to the Commission.

   Claim deemed to be rejected

  (3) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act or any other law, the Commission is deemed to have rejected a claim made by a person:

 (a) where the Commission has yet to determine whether or not it accepts liability for the claim and it has requested further information about the claim under subsection 333A(2) and the person making the claim has responded to that request for further information—on the day that is 180 days after the date that the claim was given to the Commission; and

 (b) where the Commission has yet to determine whether or not it accepts liability for the claim and it has not requested further information under subsection 333A(2)—on the day that is 120 days after the date that the claim was given to the Commission.

   Note: Where a person makes a claim that is subsequently deemed to be rejected, the person may seek to have the claim reconsidered and reviewed under Chapter 8.

   Deemed rejection does not apply where request for further information has not been responded to

  (4) Subsection (3) does not apply if the Commission has reasonably requested that a person making a claim provides further necessary information and the person fails to respond to that request for further information.

 2 At the end of section 350

  (4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act or any other law, the Commission must make a determination revoking, confirming or varying the original determination:

 (a) where the Commission has requested further information about the claim and the person making the claim has responded to that request for further information—on the day that is 60 days after the request to reconsider the original determination was given to the Commission; and


 (b) where the Commission has not requested further information—on the day that is 30 days after the request to reconsider the original determination was given to the Commission.

 

Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988

 3 After section 61

  Insert:

 

61A Liability for claim must be determined within 120 days in most cases

   Liability for claim must be determined within 120 days in most cases

  (1) This section applies if:

 (a) the person in respect of whom the claim is made is an employee for the purposes of paragraph 6A(1)(a); and

 (b) the period for determining each claim for compensation within the period prescribed by the regulations is greater than the period determined under subsection (4).

  (2) Subject to subsection (3) and notwithstanding any other provision of this Act or any other law, the determining authority must determine whether it accepts liability for the claim for compensation in writing within 120 days of the date that the claim was given to the relevant authority.

   Note: The determining authority must determine whether it accepts liability for the claim within 120 days of the date that the claim was given to the relevant authority. The time limit in this subsection applies only for the purposes of determining whether the determining authority accepts liability and does not impact the time for calculating the amount of damages or determining the assistance that will be provided. The determining authority must determine the claim within the shortest reasonable amount of time.

   Extension of time when further information required

  (3) If, in exceptional circumstances, the determining authority requires further information about the claim, the determining authority may seek further information in writing from the person making the claim. Where this subsection applies, the determining authority is required to determine whether the determining authority accepts liability for the claim in writing in accordance with this Act within 180 days of the date that the claim was given to the determining authority.

   Claim deemed to be rejected

  (4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act or any other law, the determining authority is deemed to have rejected a claim made by a person:

 (a) where the determining authority has yet to determine whether or not it accepts liability for the claim and the determining authority or the relevant authority has requested further information about the claim under subsection 61A(2) and the person making the claim has responded to that request for further information—on the day that is 180 days after the date that the claim was given to the relevant authority; and


 (b) where the determining authority has yet to determine whether or not it accepts liability for the claim and the determining authority or the relevant authority has not requested further information under subsection 61A(2)—on the day that is 120 days after the date that the claim was given to the determining authority.

   Note: Where a person makes a claim that is subsequently deemed to be rejected, the person may seek to have the claim reconsidered and reviewed under Part VI.

   Deemed rejection does not apply where request for further information has not been responded to

  (5) Subsection (4) does not apply if the relevant authority has reasonably requested that a person making a claim provides further necessary information and the person fails to respond to that request for further information.

 4 At the end of section 62

  (7) Subsection (8) applies if:

 (a) the person in respect of whom the claim is made is an employee for the purposes of paragraph 6A(1)(a); and

 (b) the period for determining each claim for compensation within the period prescribed by the regulations is greater than the period determined under subsection (6).

  (8) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act or any other law, the determining authority must make a decision affirming or revoking the determination or varying the determination:

 (a) where the determining authority has requested further information about the claim and the person making the claim has responded to that request for further information—on the day that is 60 days after the request to reconsider the determination was given to the determining authority; and

 (b) where the Commission has not requested further information—on the day that is 30 days after the request to reconsider the determination was given to the determining authority.

 

Schedule 18—Review of amendments

 1 Minister to cause independent review

 (1) The Minister must cause an independent review to be undertaken of the operation of the amendments made by this Act.

 (2) The review must consider at least each of the following matters:

 (a) the effectiveness of the amendments made by this Act; and

 (b) whether any shorter time frame requirements for decision making in relation to liability can reasonably be achieved by the Commission in terms of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004, or by the determining authority in terms of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988; and

 (c) the timeliness and quality of decision making in terms of claims made under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 or Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988; and


 (d) whether improvements can be made in terms of the decision making process for claims made under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 or Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988; and

 (e) whether the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 or Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 should include specific provisions requiring that compensation and support be provided to claimants within a fixed period of time;

 (f) similar provisions in other rehabilitation and compensation scheme in the States and Territories of Australia; and

 (g) the ability of the Commission, the relevant authority, the determining authority, Comcare and the Department of Defence to comply with the requirements in the amendments made by Schedule 17 of this Act; and

 (h) whether the amendments by Schedule 17 of this Act have a positive or negative impact upon persons making a claim under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 or Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.

 (3) The review must make provision for public consultation.

 (4) The review must be undertaken as soon as practicable after the end of the period of 12 months after the commencement of Schedule 17.

 (5) The person who undertakes the review must give the Minister a written report of the review within 6 months after the end of the 12 month period.

 (6) The Minister must cause a copy of the report of the review to be tabled in each House of the Parliament within 15 sitting days of receiving it.

Question—That the remaining stages of this bill be agreed to and this bill be now passed—put and passed.

Bill read a third time.

Proposed suspension of sitting: The Parliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations (Senator Collins) moved—That the sitting of the Senate be suspended till 2 pm.

Debate ensued.

At 2 pm: Debate was interrupted while Senator Ronaldson was speaking.