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Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Bill 2004

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2002-2003-2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH

 

OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

AMENDMENTS TO THE MILITARY REHABILITATION AND COMPENSATION BILL 2003

 

 

 

 

 

SUPPLEMENTARY EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

Amendments to be moved on behalf of the Government

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs,

the Honourable Danna Vale MP)

 

 



 

 

OUTLINE

 

The proposed Government amendments amend the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Bill 2003 (the Bill).

 

Amendments are proposed to equalise the additional lump sum benefits paid for all categories of service-related deaths.

 

Amendments are proposed to allow not only those with a claim arising from warlike or non-warlike service but those with peacetime service to pursue claims through the Veterans’ Review Board (VRB).

 

The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Bill 2003 allows the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (MRCC) to determine, via a legislative instrument, a Return to Work Scheme to apply to those people on the Special Rate Disability Pension (SRDP) whose condition improves and are able to return to work. Amendments are proposed to ensure that those who are on or successfully complete the Return to Work Scheme to retain benefits such as automatic entitlement to the Gold Card, children’s education scheme and certain dependants’ benefits

 

Further amendments correct an anomaly with the period used to calculate incapacity payments for certain members injured while on continuous full time service.  They allow the Commission to change the end of the example period used to determine the normal weekly earnings from before the last period of CFTS to the onset of the incapacity, or, for discharged members, the date of discharge from the Australian Defence Force (ADF). 

 

A number of other Government amendments of a technical nature are proposed.

 

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT STATEMENT

 

 

 

2004-2005

$m

2005-2006

$m

2006-2007

$m

2007-2008

$m

Departmental expenditure

$0.4m

$0.1m

$0.2m

$0.3m

Program expenditure

$0.6m

$0.6m

$0.7m

$0.7m

Total expenditure

$1.0m

$0.7m

$0.9m

$1.0m

 

 



 

NOTES ON AMENDMENTS

 

 

Amendment 1

1.       This amendment to Clause 12 provides that benefits that flow to the dependants of a deceased person who met the eligibility criteria for the SRDP immediately before his or her death, will also be available if death occurs at a later time. A deceased member who met the criteria at some stage of his or her life but later because of a return to work or some other event ceased to meet them will not disqualify his or her surviving dependants from benefits they would have received if eligibility had continued until death.

 

Amendment 2

2.       This is a technical amendment to clarify that the earnings of a member injured in reserve service incorporate both civilian and ADF components.

 

Amendment 3

3.       This amendment is consequential to proposed Amendment 5.

 

Amendment 4

4.       This is a technical amendment to align the terminology in this clause to that used in the Subdivision.

 

Amendment 5

5.       This amendment allows the Commission to look at pre-CFTS earnings from any period before the onset of incapacity, when calculating the normal earnings of a reserve member who was injured during a period of continuous full-time service.  This amendment ensures that the calculation of civilian earnings for these reserve members is subject to the same rules that apply to other members injured in reserve service.

 

Amendment 6

6.       This is a technical amendment that inserts a reference to Division 9 previously missing from the simplified outline.

 

Amendment 7

7.       This is a technical amendment that aligns the terminology within the simplified outline to that used in Division 8.

 

Amendment 8

8.       This amendment is consequential to proposed Amendment 9.

 

Amendment 9

9.       This amendment allows the Commission to look at pre-CFTS earnings during any period before discharge from the reserves, when calculating the normal earnings of a reserve member who was injured during a period of continuous full-time service.  This amendment ensures that the calculation of civilian earnings for these reserve members is subject to the same rules that apply to other members injured in reserve service.

 

Amendment 10

10.     This is a technical amendment to align the terminology in this heading of Subdivision E so that it correctly refers to “pre-CFTS earnings”.

 

Amendment 11

11.     This amends the outline to take account of changes to Part 6 of Chapter 3.

 

Amendment 12

12.     This is a technical amendment that clarifies that a “weekly payment” is not intended to refer to a payment under the Return to Work Scheme.

 

Amendment 13

13.     The purpose of this amendment is to clarify that a person who had chosen to receive a SRDP and subsequently was able to return to work under Clause 210 would not be held to the choice they had made to take the SRDP.

 

Amendment 14

14.     This amendment removes the requirement that the amount being paid to a person on a RTW scheme be less than the amount of SRDP they were receiving.  In the case of a person on invalidity superannuation, the net SRDP they receive could be zero.  As superannuation increases with increased capacity to work, this could have led to a serious financial disincentive.  It also increases the MRCC flexibility in determining by no longer requiring that the scheme take into account the amount of remuneration that the person is receiving

 

Amendment 15

15.     This amendment is similar to Amendment 1 in that it ensures that a person who had been eligible to receive a telephone allowance will continue to do so.

 

Amendment 16

16.     Clause 221. A technical amendment that omits the incorrect references to “partner’s” and substitutes the correct reference to “person’s”.

 

Amendment 17

17.     Clause 221. A technical amendment that omits the incorrect references to “partner’s” and substitutes the correct reference to “person’s”.

 

Amendment 18

18.     This amendment provides for an additional lump sum benefit of up to $103,000 (dependent on age) will be paid to all wholly dependent partners where the MRCC has accepted liability for the death of a member.

 

Amendment 19

19.     This amendment clarifies that a wholly dependent partner of a deceased member is eligible for compensation in the form of a weekly payment or the equivalent lump sum where the member, before death, met the criteria in either subclause 12(2) or 12(3), whether or not the MRCC has accepted liability for the death of the member.

 

Amendment 20

20. This is a technical amendment removing the reference to subparagraph  234(1)(a)(i) and replacing it with a reference to new paragraph 234(1)(a).

 

Amendment 21

21.     This amendment omits a subclause that is no longer required as a result of amendment 20.  It removes the previous reference to an amount of $40,000.

 

Amendment 22

22.     This is a technical amendment that omits reference 234(1)(a)(i) and 234(1)(a)(ii) and replaces it with a reference to 234(1)(a).

 

Amendment 23

23.     This amendment is similar to Amendment 1 in that it ensures that a child who was eligible to receive educational assistance will continue to do so.

 

Amendment 24

24. This is a technical amendment that removes an unnecessary word in Clause 278.

 

Amendment 25

25. This is a technical amendment.

 

Amendment 26

26.     This is similar to Amendment 1 in that it ensures that a person who was eligible to receive a Gold Card will continue to be eligible.

 

Amendment 27

 

27.     This is a technical amendment.

 

Amendment 28

28.     This is a technical amendment.

 

Amendment 29

29.     This is a technical amendment.

 

Amendment 30

30.     This is a technical amendment to clause 287 (1) consistent with the amendments to 27, 28 and 29 and adds a subclause 287(1)(c).

 

Amendment 31

31.     This amendment is part of the changes to review arrangements.  Since no difference is intended between “kinds of service” the reference to the nature of service is unnecessary.

 

Amendment 32

32.     This is a technical amendment similar in effect to Amendment 31.

 

Amendment 33

33.     Is a technical amendment consistent with the intent of the amendments at items 31 and 32.

 

Amendment 34

34.     This is an amendment to Clause 345 to make it clear that a claimant can appeal to the VRB regardless of the “kind of service”.

 

Amendment 35

35.     A technical amendment arising from Amendment 34.

 

Amendment 36

36.     A technical amendment arising from Amendment 34.

 

Amendment 37

37.     A technical amendment arising from Amendment 34.

 

Amendment 38

38.     A technical amendment arising from Amendment 34.

 

Amendment 39

39.     A technical amendment arising from Amendment 34.

 

Amendment 40

40.     A technical amendment arising from Amendment 34.

 

Amendment 41

41.     A technical amendment arising from Amendment 34.

 

Amendment 42

42.     A technical amendment arising from Amendment 34.

 

Amendment 43

43.     Removes the reference to reconsiderations under “Part 3” and substitutes section 349.  The effect of this amendment is to clarify that reconsiderations under section 347 may be undertaken at the discretion of the MRCC any time before a VRB matter is heard.  It allows the same process to be undertaken as section 31 reviews in the Veterans Entitlements Act 1986 to apply for section 347 reconsiderations in the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 .

 

Amendment 44

44.     A technical amendment arising from Amendment 34.

 

Amendment 45

45.     This makes it clear that it is the MRCC or the relevant Service Chief that must prepare the documents for the Tribunal, and not the VRB, whenever an appeal is made for review to the Tribunal.

 

Amendment 46

46.     A technical amendment arising from Amendment 34.

 

Amendment 47

47.     A technical amendment arising from Amendment 34.

 

Amendment 48

48.     A technical amendment arising from Amendment 34.

 

Amendment 49

49.     A technical amendment arising from Amendment 34.

 

Amendment 50

50.     This is a consequential change because there are no longer two amounts of compensation for death of members or former members.  See Item 21, which removes subclause (3).