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Veterans’ Entitlements Amendment (Expanded Gold Card Access) Bill 2015

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2013-2014-2015

 

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

THE SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

VETERANS’ ENTITLEMENTS AMENDMENT

(EXPANDED GOLD CARD ACCESS) BILL 2015

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of Senator Lambie )



VETERANS’ ENTITLEMENTS AMENDMENT (EXPANDED GOLD CARD ACCESS) BILL 2015

 

GENERAL OUTLINE

1. The purpose of the Veterans’ Entitlements Amendment (Expanded Gold Card Access) Bill 2015 is to amend the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (Cth) so that all veterans, including peacekeepers and peacemakers or former members of Australia’s Defence Force, who have served in war or war-like operations, (and for related purposes) are provided medical and psychological treatment free-of-charge - as a right of service - the best medical treatment Australia has to offer i.e. Health Gold Card benefits.

 

2. At present, there are three categories of repatriation, depending on service and medical needs:

 

1.        Orange Card (pharmaceutical only),

2.        White Card (specific conditions) and a

3.        Gold Card (all clinical health needs).

 

3. While repatriation efforts have improved in recent decades, as witnessed by high rates of self-harm and homelessness - there are still many people who have served Australia who’s medical and psychological needs are not addressed. 

 

4. The Veterans’ Entitlements Amendment (Expanded Gold Card Access) Bill 2015 is an important first step in ensuring a more effective transition between national service and civilian life. 

 

5. The Veterans’ Entitlements Amendment (Expanded Gold Card Access) Bill 2015 broadens the terms of reference of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 to ensure everyone who served in war or war-like operations receive vital, necessary and timely medical and psychological treatment - whether or not the condition or injury was caused by war or contracted during war or war-like operations.

 

6. Traditionally, effective repatriation was seen as a national obligation and the least we can do to honour those who serve.  This bill reaffirms that commitment and builds on and strengthens Australia’s traditional obligation to veterans and their rights.  It ensures that all who serve and who are injured either physically, psychologically or both, as a result of their service - receive appropriate medical and psychological care.

 

7. Our veterans must be guaranteed the best medical care Australia can deliver without the unnecessary trauma of being forced into a lengthy and costly administrative, legal and bureaucratic fight with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. 

 

8. It is expected that when the decrease of Australian veterans’ homelessness, suicide and self harm rates are taken into account, as well as the savings to the Australian Taxpayer created by forgoing expensive medical/legal tests, assessments and court cases involving our veterans.

 

 

 

 

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES -

Part 1 - Preliminary

9. Veterans’ Entitlements Amendment (Expanded Gold Card Access) Act 2015 is legislation that ensures that every person, including federal police and members of the Australian Defence Forces who undertake war or war like service will receive medical and psychological care, under the authority of a Gold Card.

Clause 1 - Short Title

 

10. This clause provides for the bill, once enacted, to be called the Veterans’ Entitlements Amendment (Expanded Gold Card Access) Act 2015.

 

Clause 2 - Commencement

 

11. This clause provides for sections 1-3 to commence on Royal Assent and Schedule 1 to commence the day after this Bill receives Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3 - Schedules

 

12. Each Act specified in a Schedule to this Act, is amended or repealed as is set out in the applicable items in the Schedule. Any other item in a Schedule to this Act has effect according to its terms.

 

Schedule 1 - Amendments

 

13. Amendments to the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986

 

Item 1 - Section 85 (heading)

 

14. This item repeals the heading to section 85 and substitutes ``Veterans and other members including Peacekeepers are eligible to be provided with treatment’’.

 

Item 2 - New subsection 85(1A)

 

 15. This item inserts a new subsection 85(1A) that deals with, before section 85(1) insert:      “treatment to be provided under Part V for - members who have served in war or war-like    operations”

 

16. Under this section, a person is eligible to be provided with treatment under Part V for any  injury suffered, or disease contracted, by the person, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, if:

 

17. The person is a veteran, or is, or has been, a member of the Defence Force; or is, or has been, a member of a Peacekeeping Force (as defined by subsection 68(1); and the person has, as such a veteran or member, rendered service in war or in a war-like operations.

 

 

Item 3 - Section 199

 

18. This item inserts “(1)” before “The Consolidated Revenue Fund’’ to ensure clarity and accuracy in the legislation, as this Bill inserts a second subsection in section 199 of the Veterans’ Entitlement Act 1986 .

 

Item 4 - New subsection 199(2)

 

19. This item amends section 199 of the Veterans’ Entitlement Act 1986 by inserting a new subsection to carve out of the standing appropriation any additional amounts that are payable by the Commonwealth as a result of the amendments made by the Veterans’ Entitlements Amendment (Expanded Gold Card Access) Bill 2015. This carve out means that the Parliament will have to separately appropriate funds for the purposes of these additional payments. Savings are expected once Australian veterans’ homelessness, suicide and self-harm rates decrease due to comprehensive access to medical treatment as provided by a Gold Card.

 

Item 5 - Application

 

20. Item 5 gives the Bill retrospective effect if the eligible persons are alive on the date of commencement and the treatment was provided on or after August 1, 1947. This is justifiable due to the unnecessary trauma of forced lengthy and costly administrative, legal and bureaucratic fight with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, many veterans have had to endure. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

21. Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.

 

 

Veterans’ Entitlements Amendment

(Expanded Gold Card Access) Bill 2015

 

22. This Bill is compatible with human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview of the Bill

 

23. The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Veterans’ Entitlements act 1986 so that veterans and others, including, but not limited to, peacekeepers and Australian Federal Police, who have served in war or war-like operations and for related purposes are provided with appropriate medical and other treatments as required.

 

 

Human rights implications

 

25. This Bill does not engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms.

 

Conclusion

 

26. This Bill is compatible with human rights as it does not raise any human rights issues.

 

Senator Lambie