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Tuesday, 22 May 1973
Page: 2380


Mr BARNARD (Bass) (Minister for Defence, Minister for the Navy, Minister for the Army, Minister for Air and Minister for Supply) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

On 7 December I announced the following benefits for members of the regular forces. All members of the regular forces including Citizen Forces and Reserves on continuous full-time service who are honourably discharged after 3 years continuous service, or earlier on medical grounds provided the member could have completed 3 years under his existing engagement or undertaking, will be eligible for:

A.   Post discharge vocational training scheme for the purpose of reestablishment in civil life

(I)   A maximum of 12 months fulltime training or 2 years part-time or correspondence training.

(II)   Payment of compulsory fees, plus a maximum of $65 for books and $65 for equipment; an allowance for fares and a living allowance to full-time students.

(III)   Applications will be required to be lodged with 12 months of discharge.

All other current entitlements are not affected.

B.   Re-establishment loans for the purpose of re-establishment in civil life.

A maximum of$6,000 for agricultural occupation and $3,000 for business loans. Applications must be lodged within 12 months of discharge.

C.   Rehabilitation treatment and training for disabled servicemen without being subject to means test.

D.   Repatriation benefits. The right to elect for repatriation benefits for disabilities due to military service.

E.   War service homes benefits on dis charge.

All members of the Regular forces including citizen forces and reserves on continuous fulltime service, who serve beyond 3 years initial service will be entitled to A, B, C and D above, and to:

(a)   War service homes benefits whilst continuing in the service, and

(b)   Re-engagement bounty for other rank members of the regular forces

A re-engagement bounty of $1,000 will be payable to any such member who, after 6 or more years service, is on an engagement, or who undertakes an engagement which will provide a further minimum period of 3 years service before reaching the prescribed retiring age. The earliest point when the bounty will become payable is at the 6 year service point for all ranks except apprentice entrants where the minimum service period is 9 years. The bounty will be payable on one occasion only during a serviceman's career. Re-engagement will not be a right. It will be subject to normal eligibility criteria. Any member who once having received the bounty and is subsequently discharged for misconduct, inefficiency or on request without sufficient compassionate grounds will be required to repay a portion of the bounty on a pro-rata basis related to the shortfall in service.

Unless discharged earlier on medical grounds, the above benefits will not apply to the following:

Navy:

A.   In the case of Royal Australian Navy college entrants until the date of being commissioned, and

B.   In the case of officers commissioned under the undergraduate scheme who are direct entrants to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology scheme until a return of 3 years effective service has been given.

Army:

A.   In the case of Royal Military College Duntroon entrants until the date of being commissioned, and

B.   In the case of officers commissioned under the undergraudates scheme until a return of 3 years service has been given.

Air:

A.   In the case of Royal Australian Air Force Academy cadets and diploma cadets until the date of being commissioned, and

B.   In the case of officers commissioned under the undergraduate scheme until a return of 3 years effective service has been given.

The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Defence Re-establishment Act 1965-1968 to provide for some of these benefits. Other benefits which were contained in my announcement of 7 December 1972 have already been provided for by the legislation or are in the process of being provided for by regulation. I refer to repatriation benefits, war service homes benefits and re-engagement benefits. The benefits concerned which are provided for by this Bill are presently available to national servicemen under the Defence Re-establishment Act. This Bill extends the benefits to all members of the regular forces, including citizen forces and reserves on continuous full time service, who are honourably discharged after 3 years continuous service or earlier on medical grounds, provided the member could have completed 3 years service under existing engagement or undertaking. Certain existing resettlement benefits for members of the regular forces who have long term service are not affected by this Bill.

The Bill provides for the establishment of an additional training scheme to be known as the former regular servicemen vocational training scheme. The benefits under this scheme will be similar to those already operating in favour of national servicemen under the national service vocational training scheme. Trainees who will be eligible for these benefits and who commenced training on or after 7 December 1972 will be able to claim the benefits which this scheme will provide. Part IV of the Defence Re-establishment Act is in very wide terms, and desirably so. It enables the Minister to make arrangements for the post-discharge vocational training of national servicemen and now, as a consequence of this Bill, of former regular servicemen where it is considered necessary or desirable for their effective resettlement. Training may be full time, part time or by correspondence. Part IV allows arrangements for the States for the use of State facilities. It permits the Minister to pay to trainees allowances and expenses on tuition and late fees. It also makes provision for text books, tools of trade and so on. The development of the vocational training scheme in relation to former regular servicemen which this Bill now authorises will, of course, require the working out of some details.

The Bill further provides for rehabilitation treatment and training benefits under the Defence (Re-establishment) Act to be extended to former regular servicemen as defined in the Bill. That Act already applies certain provisions of the Social Services Act 1947-1973 to national servicemen. This Bill, therefore, also applies, subject to variation, those provisions. In accordance with Government policy, the means test provisions of the Social Services Act will not apply to former regular servicemen. Finally, the Bill provides for re-establishment loans to be extended to former regular servicemen. These loans are for agricultural and business purposes. Under these provisions a former regular serviceman will be eligible for such a loan where this would be necessary to enable him to reestablish himself in a business, profession or occupation including farming in which he was engaged prior to call-up. I am sure that they will be found most valuable for some at least of these former regular servicemen who have rendered service. The Bill is complementary to other measures such as defence service homes and repatriation benefits which the Government is in the process of extending to servicemen not only in recognition of their occupation in present day circumstances but also in pursuit of the Government's determination to provide an adequate volunteer force. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr King) adjourned.







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