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Thursday, 19 September 2019
Page: 2679


Senator DUNIAM (TasmaniaAssistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries and Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism) (12:11): I table the explanatory memorandum relating to the bill and move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

I am pleased to introduce the Defence Service Homes Amendment Bill 2019. The Bill will amend the Defence Service Homes Act 1918 to expand eligibility for the Defence Service Homes Insurance Scheme to all current and former members of the Australian Defence Force who have at least one days' continuous service.

As the Minister for Defence, I recognise the unique place occupied by Defence members and veterans in the great history of our nation and in the hearts of all Australians.

The Australian community has a clear and reasonable expectation that veterans and members of the Defence force, and their families, will be well looked after and treated in a manner that is consistent with the sacrifices they have made on behalf of us all.

As a Government we have made it unambiguously clear that we are committed to recognising the service and sacrifice of current and former Defence force members and their families.

On 24 April 2019 the Government announced that expanded eligibility under the Defence Service Homes Scheme would commence from 1 January 2020.

This expansion of eligibility is designed to close existing gaps and ensure that all current and former members of the Australian Defence Force are eligible for home building insurance under the Scheme, regardless of the type of service they have undertaken.

Reservists and Peacekeepers, widows and widowers will all be eligible under the scheme.

Expansion of eligibility will mean more ADF members and veterans will be able to access low cost home building insurance. This will be particularly meaningful in regional and northern Australia where there is a greater frequency of adverse weather and other natural events than in some southern metropolitan areas.

The amendments will align the Defence Service Homes Insurance Scheme with the Australian Government's policy of supporting all veterans who have served, regardless of the type or length or service, in recognition of their sacrifice in the interests of the nation.

These amendments will mean better outcomes for veterans and their families.

I commend this Bill to the Senate.

Debate adjourned.