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Tuesday, 11 February 1986
Page: 127

(Question No. 770)


Senator Jessop asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 6 December 1985:

(1) Is it true that from the Statistics produced for 1984-85 on the Compensation claims paid to public employees, one in three personnel in the Department of Defence Support had a successful compensation claim compared with 5.7 per cent of employees in the Department of Defence.

(2) Does this indicate that it was 8 times more dangerous to work in a government factory or ship yard than serve in the armed forces.

(3) What percentage of the Defence Department figures in terms of number of claims, and the payments involved were due to-

(1) members of the RAN;

(2) members of the Regular Army;

(3) members of the RAAF;

(4) members of the Reserve Forces; and

(5) civilian employees of the 3 Services and the central Department.


Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The Annual Report of the Commissioner for Employees' Compensation for 1984-85 has not yet been tabled, therefore, I am unable to provide the information requested. However, certain statistics are available for 1983-84 and these are provided in respect of that financial year.

(1) 1 in 4.68 (21.38%) personnel in Department of Defence Support had claims accepted where an initial compensation payment was effected during that year compared to 1 in 53.51 (1.87%) in respect of service and civilian personnel of Department of Defence.

(2) Whilst the figures may indicate that it is 11.43 times more dangerous to work in the Department of Defence Support than in the Department of Defence, this in fact is not the position.

In this respect it is important to note that serving members of the armed forces very rarely lodge a claim for compensation unless there is an immediate monetary gain. As these personnel receive full pay and allowances plus medical treatment as a condition of service, irrespective as to the cause of their injury or disease, they are not inclined to lodge a claim. This has the effect that virtually most injuries sustained by members under compensable circumstances do not result in claims unless a permanent disability exists.

It will be seen therefore, that the above figures do not reflect the true situation when comparing civilian versus armed forces employment for compensation statistical purposes.

(3) The number of claims submitted within each of the categories can only be established by manually searching in excess of 100,000 individual records and it is not proposed to direct the substantial manpower resources needed for this task.

Information in respect of the remaining portion of the question is available, other than that for members of the Reserve Forces whose payments are included with their respective Regular Force. Details are as follows:

Payments

Percentage

of total

payments

$

RAN...

1,768,935

9.68

Army...

6,225,249

34.07

RAAF...

2,096,085

11.48

Civilians...

8,177,514

44.77

Total...

18,267,783

Broadly, the above payments in respect of the regular armed forces can be categorised as follows:

(a) Serving Members. Payments being restricted to lump sums for permanent disabilities and to their dependants in respect of death of a member.

(b) Ex-Serving Members. Payments as for serving members plus weekly incapacity payments, medical and funeral expenses.