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Thursday, 28 November 1985
Page: 2486


Senator MACKLIN(4.37) —by leave-I move:

(12) That the House of Representatives be requested to make the following amendments::

(a) Sub-clause 68 (1), definition of ``defence service'', paragraph (a), leave out ``and before the commencement of this Act; or'' and leave out sub-paragraph (ii).

(b) Sub-clause 69 (1), leave out ``and before the commencment of this Act; or'' in paragraph (a) and leave out paragraph (b).

(c) Leave out sub-clause 69 (2).

These clauses concern those members of the defence forces who will become members after the commencment of this Act. As honourable senators are aware, the defence forces came under this Act as a result of the Whitlam Government inititative in 1972 and they have remained under this Act for the whole of that period.

The Government has announced, through the Minister for Defence (Mr Beazley), that it intends to introduce a separate military compensation scheme and that this compensation scheme will be brought in some time next year. Since that military compensation scheme is not before the Committee and, hence, we do not have any idea as to whether or not the Parliament will accept such a scheme, it seems entirely inappropriate to exclude the defence forces from the Act under which they are currently covered, to allow them to move into limbo and to come under a workers compensation scheme or some other type of compensation scheme for injuries that might occur, until we can see the military compensation scheme and until the Parliament has accepted it. It is taking this place somewhat for granted to suggest that the mere introduction of that scheme, or the Government's wish to introduce it, means that it will be accepted. I feel that taking the defence forces out is a premature step, and a step that should be considered after, not before, the introduction of the military compensation Bill.

The Government has also said that one way of avoiding the problem is to introduce the added notion of those people who are in the defence forces and who are operating on hazardous service. As part of the general discussion I ask the Minister: What will the Government determine constitutes hazardous service; how will the Minister for Defence be involved in making that determination; and will that determination be after a member applies and says that he has been injured in some way by hazardous service or will a determination be made prior to a particular activity? I give an example. Last year on a military exercise in the north of this country a serviceman was killed. How are we to take that particular occurrence. Will the Minister for Defence declare prior to a military exercise that that exercise constitutes hazardous service; or if somebody is hurt in some way will the Minister say that it was hazardous service; or will he make determinations in regard to various areas, giving a generic type of definition of `hazardous service'? People would be aware that many members of the defence forces have lost their lives in peacetime. Many of the things that defence forces are required to undertake are extremely dangerous, and even those ones which normally are not considered dangerous can result in injury or death. I had a friend who was killed a couple of years ago in a fairly routine flying operation. He was a very capable and highly qualified pilot who was killed flying a light aircraft on manoeuvres in Victoria.

So we do know that this occurs; we are aware of it and we are aware of the problems that result thereby. I would like the Minister to clarify first of all the whole notion of hazardous service and, while he is responding to that, would he also respond to the problem raised with the combined veterans groups concerning clause 69 of the Bill, and the differentiation between hazardous service as it appears in the explanatory memorandum and the lack of a reference to hazardous service in clause 69 of the Bill? Also, since the Minister knew that this Bill would be the subject of an extended debate and possible amendment, why was it not possible to rectify that item at this point if the Government had known about it for so long?