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Independent committee to review veterans' entitlements.



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Media Release The Hon Danna Vale MP   Minister for Veterans' Affairs Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence Federal Member for Hughes

VA5 Friday 8 February 2002

INDEPENDENT COMMITTEE TO REVIEW VETERANS’ ENTITLEMENTS

The Federal Government has appointed a former Supreme Court judge, a senior RAAF officer and Vietnam veteran and a former Commonwealth Department head to conduct an independent review of perceived anomalies in the access to veterans’ entitlements, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, Danna Vale, announced today.

Minister Vale said the Review of Veterans’ Entitlements was a key commitment in the Coalition Government’s 2001 election platform for the veteran community.

"The Government has recognised concerns in sections of the veteran community that some ex-servicemen and women may be denied accessmissing out on to entitlements because of perceived anomalies in the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 ," she said.

"There also are ongoing concerns about the adequacy of benefits and support available for veterans receiving the T&PITotally and Permanently Incapacitated (T&PI) rate and other rates of veteran disability pension.

"The independent committee will hear submissions on this range ofthese issues and make recommendations on areas that may need to be addressed in line with the Government’s commitment to providing fair, consistent and appropriate benefits to Australia’s veterans."

Minister Vale said the committee would be chaired by Justice John Clarke QC, a former judge of the NSW Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. The other two members are former Vice-Chief of the Australian Defence Force, Air Marshal Douglas Riding AO DFC, and the former Secretary of the Department of Family and Community Services, Dr David Rosalky.

"The Veterans’ Entitlements Act is based on a number of core principles including the determination of qualifying service and veterans’ benefits for those who have suffered special deprivations and pressures when confronting the enemy. These principles have been supported by successive governments," Minister Vale said.

"The committee will examine the history and current interpretation of eligibility criteria for qualifying service, which entitles veterans to apply for a range of benefits, including the service pension.

"This will include perceived anomalies that may be raised by groups including some World War II personnel who did not serve outside Australia, veterans of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan, participants in the British atomic testing program in Australia and SAS Regiment personnel involved in counter-terrorist and special recovery training.

"In relation to the T&PI and other disability pensions, the committee will consider the appropriateness of current benefits and the extent to which the medical, social and vocational rehabilitation needs of compensation pensioners are being met.

"It will make recommendations on possible improvements in benefits and support programs to address any identified deficiencies, including the potential to restructure benefits and programs in order to fund any reforms."

The Minister said the committee would hear submissions from interested parties on all issues and urged members of the veteran community to give their support to the review.

"The committee will report in November, enabling the Government to consider its recommendations in the context of the 2003-2004May 2003 Budget," she said.

Media Contact: Rachael Thompson (02) 6277 7820 or 0417 265 289

Editors’ note: Terms of Reference for the Review of Veterans’ Entitlements are available at www.dva.gov.au

 

Review of Veterans’ Entitlements

Committee Chair

Hon Justice John Clarke QC

Justice Clarke is a former National Serviceman who did National Service in 1954, followed by two years in a Sydney University Reserves regiment while studying for his Bachelor of Law. He was called to the Bar in 1959 and became a QC in 1976, practising mainly in common law and later in the industrial arbitration area. Justice Clarke was appointed a judge of the NSW Supreme Court in 1983 and sat on the bench for 14 years. From 1987-1997 he served as a member of the Court of Appeal and since his retirement has also sat as an Acting Judge of Appeal. Since retiring from the bench, Justice Clarke has practised as a mediator and arbitrator.

Committee members

Air Marshal Douglas Riding AO DFC

Air Marshal Riding joined the Royal Australian Air Force as an aircrew cadet in June 1962 and saw active service in Vietnam with the 19 th Tactical Air Support Squadron USAF, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1969. After being promoted to Wing Commander in 1979, AM Riding served in posts in Australia and overseas, and from 1987-1990 was Officer Commanding RAAF East Sale. During the 1990s, AM Riding held senior executive and command positions in the RAAF and Australian Defence Force, and in 1998 was appointed Vice-Chief of the Defence Force. He retired from the permanent RAAF in June 2000.

Dr David Rosalky

Dr Rosalky comes to the committee with extensive experience as a public servant, having held senior positions in the Commonwealth Department of Finance and the Canadian Treasury Board. From

1980-83, he was Senior Private Secretary in the office of Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. Dr Rosalky served as Under-Treasurer of ACT Treasury, Secretary of the ACT Chief Minister’s Department in 1994-95, then as Secretary of the Department of Workplace Relations and Small Business from 1995-98. In 1998 he was appointed Secretary of the Department of Family and Community Services, retiring last year. Dr Rosalky is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University.

 

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