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Thursday, 28 November 1985
Page: 2454

Senator MACKLIN(11.50) —I thank the Minister for his response but it was at variance with the point I was making. I agree totally that it is in the interests of the veteran to provide as much material as possible, as rapidly as possible, and at the earliest stage so that things can be moved along and not get bogged down. I support totally the idea of being able to reduce the number from three to one to allow a lot more claims to be dealt with at the primary determining stage. I have not said anything about any of those. I am merely pointing to the second part. I did emphasise that the clause does not simply say `refusal'; it says `refusal or failure'. It is the failure bit that I am concerned about because the failure may not be the fault of the claimant. In other words, the person may be quite innocent. He may be in ill-health or may have been run over by a truck or something and be in a hospital in some other part of Australia. The doctor may be absent. The medical specialist may be sick on the day of the appointment. This guillotine is to come down at six months. This is the problem I am emphasising. I am not saying that the determination system itself is not the proper way to do it. I accept all of that. I am happy with it and I hope that it will speed things up. I am merely saying that where there is a failure and it is outside the ability of the claimant to do anything about that failure injustices may well be caused at that point. I think they could be overcome quite simply by investing slightly more discretion in the Commission. I do not seek any other change whatsoever to the procedure as I support the entire procedure. I am merely seeking to extend that discretionary power to enable the Commission to act if it finds a genuine reason. I am ready to admit that this would be rare, and that is why I believe this is an acceptable amendment to cover that situation.