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Thursday, 5 December 1985
Page: 3041

Senator MACKLIN(3.58) —The Senate is discussing the Repatriation Legislation Amendment (Extension of Operation) Bill, which, as Senator Lewis has already said, extends the provisions of the sunset clause for another 12 months. I emphasise the point that the Minister for Veterans' Affairs (Senator Gietzelt) raised in the statement he just made, by leave. It is our hope that the main legislation-that is the Veterans' Entitlements Bill-will be dealt with as early as possible in the New Year. As I indicated previously, we have supported the consolidation of the veterans' legislation. We are interested in how the final outstanding obstacles which were referred to in the joint statement-the problems of retrospectivity and the items dealing with the people who had gone into the determination system or into the appeal system prior to 15 May this year-will be dealt with. That matter has to be resolved. I believe that there are at least some grounds for hoping that that can be satisfactorily resolved by the time we return in February and, I hope, debate the full legislation.

I am grateful that the Government, in looking at the amendments and requests which were voted on and passed by the Senate, has found that now it is able to accept the major ones. They are the one dealing with allied veterans who became citizens of this country after 1 September 1957; the one dealing with the new enlistees in the defence forces to the effect that they will remain within the repatriation system until such time as a military compensation Bill is brought before this chamber and passed; and the acceptance by the Government of a desire to look at, I think, some 32 other amendments, most of which are based upon the report of the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills and deal with a number of technical items.

I believe that many of those matters may be able to be resolved to everybody's satisfaction. I believe that the final legislation will very largely reflect the views of all political parties and all veterans' organisations in this country. If that comes about in February it certainly will be a major achievement and, indeed, will be a milestone in the history of the treatment of veterans in this country. Hopefully, combined with the speedier operation of the repatriation system which is now showing up, flowing from previous legislation, that will provide a firm base for the future for so many people in this country who depend upon the system for support. In many cases people depend upon it for their livelihood and for medical treatment that is required to be provided to them as an obligation undertaken by the Commonwealth for the service they have performed for their country.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.