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Thursday, 5 August 2021
Page: 22


Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital TerritoryManager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (12:15): The purpose of the National Health Amendment (Decisions under the Continence Aids Payment Scheme) Bill 2021 is to provide express support for the Continence Aids Payment Scheme, CAPS, to confer review functions on the AAT. The bill amends the act to provide that a legislative instrument made under section 12 of the act may provide that applications may be made to the AAT for review of decisions made in exercise of powers conferred by the instrument. The minister may by this instrument formulate a continuance aids payment scheme under which the Commonwealth makes payments as a contribution towards the cost of buying products to help manage incontinence.

Under existing arrangements, the Continence Aids Payment Scheme, an annual or six-monthly payment, is available to people five years of age and over who suffer from permanent and severe incontinence caused by particular kinds of conditions specified in the instrument. These payments help offset the cost of purchasing continence products from the participating person's supplier of choice.

On 16 January 2021, the CAPS instrument was amended to provide that persons and organisations affected by these decisions of the secretary could apply for internal merit review or, following internal review, independent merits review of that initial review decision by the AAT. The bill amends the act to make it clear on the face of the act that the legislative instrument establishing the CAPS can provide the AAT review of decisions provided for in the instrument and that are not already covered by sections 14 and 15 of the act. It's a sensible administrative reform that should improve accountability. As such, Labor commends the bill to the Senate.