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Thursday, 13 September 2018
Page: 54

Veterans


Senator ANNING (Queensland) (14:23): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, Senator Payne. Given the strong support in this place yesterday for my motion calling for the establishment of an Australian military covenant and the fact that this is now an election promise by the opposition, what is the government's view on the establishment of an Australian military covenant?


Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:23): I thank Senator Anning for his question. The Australian government has been working with the ex-service community for some time now with a view to developing an Australian veterans covenant. The proposed covenant aims to recognise the unique nature of military service as well as the role of governments, business and the Australian community in recognising, respecting and valuing the service and sacrifice of our men and women of the Australian Defence Force. This is a very important issue, and it's one which the coalition government believes we must get right not only for veterans and their families but also for the wider Australian community. Our aim is for a covenant to be an enduring legacy embraced by the wider community and by future generations of Australians. We will conclude this significant work in a deliberate, considered and consultative way. There has been a working group from the veteran community, established earlier this year within the existing national consultation structure, which will prepare and endorse the Australian veterans covenant in this final year of the centenary of Anzac.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Anning, a supplementary question.



Senator ANNING (Queensland) (14:24): As you've indicated your strong support, when does the government intend to enshrine the Australian military covenant in legislation?


Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:24): I would refer Senator Anning to my previous answer, which indicated that this is part of a considered consultation process, and we will prepare and endorse the covenant in this final year of the centenary of Anzac.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Anning, a final supplementary question.



Senator ANNING (Queensland) (14:25): As part of any military covenant entered into by the government, is the government prepared to recognise that the onus of proof in veterans' disability claims should be reversed? Will it show, at least, the same level of willingness to compensate veterans as Centrelink provides to those seeking welfare?


Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:25): I will take the specifics of Senator Anning's question on notice. The covenant, of course, is continuing in development, as I have advised, but I'll bring those matters to the attention of the Minister for Veterans' Affairs.