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Tuesday, 18 May 1993
Page: 699

Senator BURNS —My question is directed to the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel. I refer to the Minister's announcement yesterday regarding conditions of service for defence personnel. Can the Minister inform the Senate how the establishment of a framework of conditions of service for Australian Defence Force personnel deployed overseas will lead to a more timely resolution of these matters?

Senator FAULKNER —As the Senate might be aware, in the past conditions of service for ADF members deployed overseas were authorised under several pieces of legislation and were also administered in a range of different departments. For example, tax concessions, of course, were administered by the Treasury; deployment allowances by the Department of Industrial Relations; and compensation by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

  When decisions were being made on a case-by-case basis, it sometimes resulted in delays and situations where personnel were deployed overseas without knowing exactly what their entitlements would be. With the establishment of a framework of deployment conditions of service, these conditions will no longer be made on a case-by-case basis. The establishment of the framework coordinates the authorisation of the entitlements so that delays will not occur in the future.

  In the future, a deployment will be declared warlike or non-warlike and the full range of service conditions associated with each situation can be assumed approved. The declaration of deployment, warlike or non-warlike, will be made by the Minister for Defence and that will be done in consultation with the Prime Minister in each case. The Government has also approved an enhanced defence home loan assistance benefit for ADF personnel who served or are serving in Cambodia, Somalia and the former Yugoslavia.

  For example, soldiers who have completed operational service in Somalia will now have a waiver of the six-year qualifying requirement and an additional three years of loan subsidy and may, depending on whether they have any further service, have the maximum loan subsidy period extended from 20 years to 25 years. The Government hopes that this framework will provide a substantial incentive to personnel returning from these areas to invest in their own homes. The benefit will now be available, of course, for future overseas deployments that are also declared warlike.