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Thursday, 28 November 1985
Page: 2500

Senator MACKLIN(5.51) —I move:

(17) After clause 172, add the following clause:

Annual Report

``172A. (1) As soon as practicable after each 30 June, the Board shall provide to the Minister a report upon its operations during the year ending on that date.

``(2) The Minister shall cause a report provided under sub-section (1) to be laid before each House of the Parliament as soon as possible after the receipt of the report by the Minister.''.

This amendment is simply to provide for a separate report of the Veterans' Review Board. As honourable senators are aware, the Repatriation Review Tribunal used to produce an annual report. The current situation, as we are informed by the Department of Veterans' Affairs, will be that any report from the Veterans' Review Board would be included in the Repatriation Commission's annual report. With all due respect to the Repatriation Commission, I would think that its report and, hence, what it chooses to put in from the Veterans' Review Board, will be what it chooses to put in.

The Minister for Community Services (Senator Grimes), who is now in the chamber, will well remember discussing a very celebrated report from the Repatriation Review Tribunal which got stuck well and truly into the Commission and the way in which the Commission was operating in the determinations in this area. Frankly, I cannot see that appearing in a Repatriation Commission report. I believe it is an independent statutory group. As we have just discussed on clause 137, the Commission and the Board, of course, are not going to be dictating to one another; so there is that separateness. I believe there should be separateness in terms of the Veterans' Review Board's report, so that, if it wishes to make any criticisms, it makes them on its own and they stand or fall on its merits as a report of the Board.