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Thursday, 30 April 1987
Page: 2393

(Question No. 4997)

Mr Sinclair asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 17 February 1987:

(1) Did the 1985-86 annual report of the Defence Force Ombudsman express concern about unsatisfactory and frustrating delays by his Department in responding to complaints.

(2) Is it a fact that, as a result of the length of time taken by his Department to respond to applications for redress, individual complaints can remain unresolved for more than one year; if so, what action is being taken to resolve the problem.

Mr Beazley —The answer to the right honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes.

(2) A small number of individual complaints can remain unresolved for more than a year. These comprise complaints which, in the main, have come to the De- fence Force Ombudsman because they are, by their nature, more complex. They usually involve policy issues that go beyond the parameters of the individual complaint and may involve other Department's in their resolution. A review of Defence Force redress of grievance legislation and procedures, initiated last year, is proceeding in order to identify problem areas and recommend solutions. Further, following discussions with the Ombudsman and his staff, procedures have been introduced to improve the handling of Ombudsman inquiries in the Defence organisation.