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Veterans' Entitlements Amendment (2005 Budget Measure) Bill 2005

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2004 - 2005

 

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Veterans’ Entitlements Amendment

(2005 Budget Measure)

Bill 2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

The Honourable De-Anne Kelly MP)



 

Table of Contents

 

 

Outline and Financial Impact …………………………………………………….  ii

           

Part 1 - Preliminary

 

1                     Short Title  .......................................................................................... iii

2                     Commencement  ................................................................................. iii

3                     Schedule(s)  ........................................................................................ iii

 

 

Schedule 1 - Seniors concession allowance      ………………………..………….  1

                          Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986   ………………………………….  1

 

           

 

 



 

OUTLINE AND FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

Outline

This Bill will amend the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) to give effect to the 2005 Budget measure to extend eligibility for the seniors concession allowance to persons who are Gold Card holders, over veteran pension age, and who are not otherwise eligible for the seniors concession allowance or the utilities allowance. 

 

Date of Effect

From Royal Assent.

 

Financial Impact

2004-05          $0.2 m

2005-06          $9.8 m

2006-07          $8.9 m

2007-08          $8.9 m

 

 

            

                         



 

Part 1 - Preliminary

 

 

Short Title

Clause 1 sets out how the Act is to be cited.

 

Commencement

Clause 2 provides a table that sets out the commencement dates of the various sections in, and Schedules to, the Act.

 

Schedules

Clause 3 provides that the Act specified in a Schedule to this Act is amended or repealed as set out in the items of that Schedule.

 



 

Schedule 1 - Seniors concession allowance

 

Overview

This Bill will amend the VEA to give effect to the 2005 Budget measure to extend eligibility for the seniors concession allowance to persons who are Gold Card holders, over veteran pension age, and who are not otherwise eligible for the seniors concession allowance or the utilities allowance. 

 

Background

The seniors concession allowance was introduced in December 2004 and is intended to assist self-funded retirees with energy, rates, water, sewerage and motor vehicle registration expenses. The seniors concession allowance recognises that self-funded retirees may not receive State and Territory concessions for these items.  The seniors concession allowance is paid in two instalments each year, in June and December.  To receive an instalment, a person must be eligible on the seniors concession allowance test day (1 June and 1 December each year).  Initially, eligibility for the seniors concession allowance was restricted to persons with a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC).  Seniors concession allowance is also available under the social security law to persons with a CSHC issued by Centrelink. 

 

The utilities allowance, introduced in the Family and Community Services and Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendments (2004 Election Commitments) Act 2004 along with the seniors concession allowance, commenced in March 2005.  The utilities allowance is intended to assist those on income support with the payment of regular household bills, such as gas and electricity.  To be eligible for the utilities allowance under the VEA, a person must be receiving a service pension or income support supplement and be over veteran pension age. The utilities allowance is paid in two instalments in March and September each year.  Utilities allowance is also available under the social security law to persons who are over age pension age and receiving a social security income support payment. 

 

A person is not able to receive more than 2 instalments per year of any combination of seniors concession allowance or utilities allowance paid under either the VEA or social security law.

 

Gold Card is the commonly used term for the “ Repatriation Health Card - For All Conditions”.  Persons who hold a Gold Card are entitled to treatment, under the VEA, in accordance with the Treatment Principles prepared under section 90 of the VEA, or under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA), in accordance with a determination made under section 286 of the MRCA, for any injury suffered, or disease contracted.

 

 

 

 

Background (Cont.)

Veteran pension age is 60 for men and, currently, is 57.5 for women.  The veteran pension age for women is being raised by six months every two years so that by July 2013, the veteran pension age for both men and women will be 60.

 

 

Explanation of the Changes

 

 

These amendments to the VEA will extend eligibility for the seniors concession allowance to persons who are Gold Card holders, over veteran pension age, and who are not otherwise eligible for the seniors concession allowance or the utilities allowance.

 

Thus, a Gold Card holder, of veteran pension age, who is receiving an income support payment under the VEA, and is therefore eligible for utilities allowance, is not eligible for the seniors concession allowance under these new provisions.  However, a Gold Card holder, between veteran pension age and age pension age, who is receiving an income support payment under the social security law, and is ineligible for utilities allowance under the social security law, is eligible for seniors concession allowance under these new provisions.  In addition, a person of veteran pension age, who has a Gold Card and a CSHC, will not be able to receive 2 instalments of seniors concession allowance for the one test day.  Furthermore, a person who has a Gold Card and is eligible for the utilities allowance, cannot elect to not receive the utilities allowance instalment and instead receive an instalment of seniors concession allowance. 

 

The first payment of seniors concession allowance to eligible Gold Card holders under this extension will occur in relation to the test day of 

1 December 2005.

 

 

Explanation of the Items

 

Item 1

This item makes a minor technical amendment and establishes the previously sole clause of the provision as subsection (1) of the provision.

 

 

Item 2

Item 2 makes a minor technical amendment to subparagraph 118PA(b)(iii) to enable additional paragraphs to be added to the provision.

 

 
Item 3

 

Item 3 adds two new paragraphs to subsection 118PA(1).  New paragraph 118PA(1)(c) provides that a person is eligible for the seniors concession allowance if the person meets the eligibility criteria established in new subsection 118PA(2) and the person is in Australia. 

 

New paragraph 118PA(1)(d) provides that a person is eligible for the seniors concession allowance if the person met the eligibility criteria established in new subsection 118PA(2) immediately before leaving Australia, and the person is temporarily absent from Australia and that person’s continuous absence from Australia does not exceed 13 weeks.

 

Item 4

Item 4 inserts two new subsections after subsection 118PA(1). 

 

New subsection 118PA(2) provides that a person is eligible for the seniors concession allowance if:

 

·          the person is the holder of a Gold Card; and

·          the person has reached qualifying age; and

·          the person is not eligible for the seniors concession allowance under paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection 118PA(1); and

·          the person is not qualified for seniors concession allowance under the Social Security Act 1991 (the Social Security Act); and

·          the person is not eligible for utilities allowance under the VEA; and

·          the person is not qualified for utilities allowance under the Social Security Act. 

 

For the purposes of this section, “qualifying age” has the same meaning as it does in section 118OA of the VEA and provides that a person, whether a veteran or a non-veteran, may be eligible for the SCA at veteran pension age.

 

New subsection 118PA(3) provides a definition for gold card .  For the purposes of section 118PA, gold card means a Repatriation Health Card - For All Conditions, that evidences a person’s eligibility under this Act or the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 , to be provided with treatment for any injury suffered or disease contracted.

 

 

Commencement

Subclause 2(1) provides that item 1 of Schedule 1 commences on Royal Assent and items 2 to 4 of Schedule 1 commence immediately after item 1 of Schedule 1.