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Australian Veterans’ Recognition (Putting Veterans and Their Families First) Bill 2019

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2019

 

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

SENATE

 

 

 

 

AUSTRALIAN VETERANS’ RECOGNITION (PUTTING VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES FIRST) BILL 2019

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel,

The Honourable Darren Chester MP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

 

 

Outline and financial impact

i

 

Statement of Compatibility

ii

 

Australian Veterans’ Recognition (Putting Veterans and their Families First) Bill 2019

 

 

Short title

1

 

Commencement

1

Part 1

Preliminary

3

Part 2

Recognition of veterans and their families

4

Part 3

Issue of pins, cards or other artefacts

6

Part 4

Other matters

7

Schedule 1

Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant

7



AUSTRALIAN VETERANS’ RECOGNITION (PUTTING VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES FIRST) BILL 2019

 

OUTLINE AND FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The Explanatory Memorandum to the Australian Veterans’ Recognition (Putting Veterans and their Families First) Bill 2019 ( the Bill) provides a description of the Bill being made.

 

The proposed Bill to be made would create a new Act, namely the Australian Veterans’ Recognition (Putting Veterans and their Families First) Act 2019 to provide a framework for Government, business and the people of Australia to recognise and acknowledge the unique nature of military service and support veterans and their families. 

 

The new Act will include an overarching statement in relation to the beneficial nature of Veterans’ Affairs portfolio legislation, and will include, in a Schedule to the Act, the Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant. The new Act will also make provision for the issue of lapel pins, cards and other artefacts in recognition of the military service of veterans and the sacrifices made by the families of veterans.

 

Date of Effect : this Bill commences the day after Royal Assent.

 

Financial Impact

 

$11.1M over the forward estimates.



 

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

 

AUSTRALIAN VETERANS’ RECOGNITION (PUTTING VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES FIRST) BILL 2019

 

 

The Australian Veterans’ Recognition (Putting Veterans and their Families First) Bill 2019 is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview of the Bill

 

The proposed Bill to be made would create a new Act, namely the Australian Veterans’ Recognition (Putting Veterans and their Families First) Act 2019 to provide a framework for Government, business and the people of Australia to recognise and acknowledge the unique nature of military service and to support veterans and their families. 

 

In addition, the new Act will provide for an overarching statement in relation to the beneficial nature of Veterans’ Affairs portfolio legislation.

 

These amendments commence the day after the Act receives the Royal Assent.

 

Human rights implications

This Bill does not engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms.

 

Conclusion

 

This Bill is compatible with human rights as it does not raise any human rights issues. 

 

The Bill will does not raise any human rights issues for Australian Defence Force veterans and their families as the Bill provides a range of acknowledgements and statements made by Commonwealth. 

 

The Bill is intended to provide recognition of the demands placed upon and sacrifices made by veterans and their families as a result of service in the Australian Defence Force.  

 



AUSTRALIAN VETERANS’ RECOGNITION (PUTTING VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES FIRST) BILL 2019

 

Short Title                  Clause 1 provides that the Act is the Australian Veterans’ Recognition (Putting Veterans and their Families First) Act 2019 .

 

Commencement            Subclause (1) refers to each provision of this Act as specified in column 1 of the table as commencing, or to be taken to have commenced, in accordance with column 2 of the table.  Any other statement in column 2 has effect according to its terms.  

 

                                    Subclause (2) provides that any information in column 3 of the table is not part of the Act.  Information may be inserted in this column, or information in it may be edited, in any published version of the Act

 

For convenience the commencement information is replicated below.

 

Commencement information

Column 1

Column 2

Column 3

Provisions

Commencement

Date/Details

1.  The whole of this Act

The day after this Act receives the Royal Assent.

 

 

 

 



 

Australian Veterans’ Recognition (Putting Veterans and their Families First) Bill 2019

 

Background

The Bill will create a new Act, namely the Australian Veterans’ Recognition (Putting Veterans and their Families First) Act 2019 .

The Prime Minister, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP and the Hon. Darren Chester, MP made a joint media statement on 27 October 2018 stating that the Government will develop an Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant (Covenant), to be enacted in legislation, to recognise the unique nature of military service and support veterans and their families. 

 

As part of the joint media statement - “ recognising and respecting our veterans ” it was announced that a lapel pin and veteran card will be part of the Veteran Recognition package.

 

The Covenant will provide an opportunity for Australians and the business community to recognise veterans and their families and the service and sacrifice they have made as members of the Australian Defence Force.

 

This Bill is part of the Veteran Recognition package designed to provide recognition to veterans and their families. As part of the recognition package, a lapel pin and the Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant will be distributed to veterans. The lapel pin will allow veterans to be easily identifiable by the Australian community where they choose to wear it. 

 

The Bill also provides for the issue of cards and other artefacts in recognition of the military service of veterans.

 

The beneficial legislation statement at clause 7 makes it clear the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio legislation has a beneficial purpose and should be interpreted accordingly.

 

 



 

Notes on Clauses

 

Part 1 - Preliminary

 

Clause 1 - Short title

 

This clause would specify the short title of the Act as the Australian Veterans’ Recognition (Putting Veterans and their Families First) Act 2019.

 

Clause 2 - Commencement

 

This clause provides that the Bill will commence the day after the Act receives the Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3 - Object of this Act

 

This clause 3 provides that the Object of this Act is to acknowledge the unique nature of military service and the sacrifice demanded of those persons who commit to defend our nation.

 

The reference to the objects of the Act is to provide a broad statement on the matters covered by the Act and the purpose of the Act.

 

Clause 4 - Definitions

 

This clause contains all of the definitions required for the new Act.  The definitions are an aid to the understanding of the Act and provide clarity on the use of certain words. 

 

The following terms are defined for the purposes of the Act: Permanent Forces , Reserves and veteran

 

Permanent Forces and Reserves would have the same meaning as in the Defence Act 1903 (Defence Act).  Under the Defence Act, the “Permanent Forces” are defined as “the Permanent Navy, the Regular Army and the Permanent Airforce” and the “Reserves” are defined as “Naval Reserve, the Army Reserve and the Air Force Reserve”. 

 

The use of the terms from the Defence Act is to ensure that those who are serving or have served in the Australian Defence Force are included within this Act whether they are or were engaged as a member of the Permanent Forces or in the Reserves.

 

A veteran is defined as a person who has served, or is serving, as a member of the Permanent Forces or a person who has, or is serving as a member of the Reserves. 



 

Part 2 - Recognition of veterans and their families

 

Clause 5 - General Recognition ,

 

This clause inserts a general recognition clause to allow the Commonwealth to provide general recognition for veterans given their military service and their families who support them.

 

Subclause 5(1) will provide that the Commonwealth acknowledges the unique nature of military service and the sacrifice demanded of those who commit to defend our nation. 

 

This subclause will provide acknowledgement of the nature of and sacrifice expected of members of the Australian Defence Force in their commitment to defend Australia and her allies.

 

Subclause 5(2) will provide Commonwealth acknowledgement of the demands placed on, and the sacrifices made by, the families of veterans. 

 

This statement will provide recognition of the demands placed on, and the sacrifices made by the family.  It further acknowledges that these demands and sacrifices are unique due to the nature of military service.

 

Subclause 5(3) will provide Commonwealth acknowledgement that veterans may require, at the end of their military service, support mechanisms to be in place in order to enjoy good health, access employment and training opportunities, access to appropriate housing, access to justice, enjoy social wellbeing and to participate in community engagement.

 

The intent of this subclause is to acknowledge that veterans may have unique challenges that require support mechanisms to be in place for them to enjoy life to the fullest extent possible.

 

Subclause 5(4) will provide Commonwealth acknowledgement that the Commonwealth is committed to supporting veterans and providing the care and support they may require.

 

The intent of this subclause is to provide a commitment that adequate care and support is available to veterans as and when they require it.

 

Subclause 5(5) will provide Commonwealth acknowledgement that support for veterans should be provided in a way that respects their dignity as individuals, enhances their self-esteem, is sensitive to any physical or mental injury or disease they may have suffered as respects their military service.

 

The purpose of this subclause is to acknowledge the toll that military service may take on individual veterans and that where support is required it will be provided in a way that builds self-esteem and is sensitive to their particular vulnerability while respecting them as individuals.

 

Subclause 5(6) will provide Commonwealth acknowledgement that veterans should be supported to achieve greater economic wellbeing and sustainability and greater participation in civic affairs and should have opportunities to participate in employment and education.

 

The purpose of this subclause is to acknowledge that veterans may require additional support to engage in civic affairs, achieve economic, employment and educational activities.

 

Clause 6 - Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant

 

This clause provides that the Parliament, on behalf of the Australian people, endorses the Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant set out in Schedule 1 to this Bill. 

 

This clause will ensure that the Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant is an intrinsic part of the Bill to give it the importance and status required to honour those who have provided service as part of the Australian Defence Force. 

 

The Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant purpose is to enable the Australian community to acknowledge, honour and support veterans and their families.

 

Clause 7 - Beneficial interpretation of legislation

 

This clause provides a clear statement that Veterans’ Affairs portfolio legislation will be interpreted with a beneficial intention as it benefits a select group of people within the Australian community.

 

Subclause 7(1) will provide that the Commonwealth is committed to decision-makers interpreting legislation in a way that benefits veterans and their families where that interpretation is consistent with the purpose of the provision.

 

For this subclause the legislation specified is the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986, the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 and instruments made under these Acts .   The Acts specified are the principal Acts that provide for entitlements to compensation, treatment, rehabilitation and payments to injured veterans.

 

The intent of this subclause is to state that where a provision in any of the above Acts and instruments under these Acts can be interpreted beneficially it should be so interpreted. However, not all provisions in these Acts and instruments is intended to be beneficial in nature, for example the recovery of debts to the Commonwealth and provisions protecting the Commonwealth from fraud.

 

Paragraph 7(2)(a) will provide that the Commonwealth is committed to decision-makers deciding claims under the legislation, above, in a manner that is fair, just and consistent. Departmental training to ensure decision-makers understand and appropriately apply the beneficial interpretation will be developed to support the intent of this Clause.

 

Paragraph 7(2)(b) will provide that claims will be decided within a time that is proportionate to the complexity of the matter. 

 

This paragraph acknowledges the variety of complexity of client claims and that there will be differences in timeliness. 

 

Paragraph 7(2)(c) will provide that the Commonwealth is committed to decision-makers making decisions in a manner that promotes public trust and confidence.

 

This paragraph acknowledges that the role of each decision-maker is one of responsibility and in a trusted position to be ethical, honest, objective and acts with integrity.  Where a decision-maker enshrines these values it reflects positively in public perception of the Department and themselves - this instils trust and confidence in public officials and the important work they undertake on behalf of the Secretary, Minister and the Commissions established under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004.

 

Paragraph 7(2)(d) will provide that the Commonwealth is committed to decision-makers making decisions under the legislation on the basis of only requiring evidence that is sufficient to meet the relevant standard of proof for the claims.

 

This paragraph acknowledges that decision-makers operate within a complex legislative environment and often have a large degree of discretion to exercise when determining an outcome.  It also provides a reminder that there are varying standards of proof depending on the circumstances of each case and that the applicable standard is the legal threshold in which a decision is to be made. 

 

Clause 8 - Cooperation

 

This clause provides a statement that the Commonwealth is committed to working cooperatively with veterans, their families and ex-service organisations to address issues facing veterans.

 

The intent of this clause is to assure veterans, their families and ex-service organisations that their issues and concerns will continue to be heard and addressed.  The department currently hosts a wide range of forums where issues and concerns can be raised by veterans and their families along with ex-service organisations.  These forums will continue to play an important role in informing and shaping the department’s future focus.  

 

Part 3 - Issue of pins, cards and other artefacts of recognition

 

Clause 9 - Issue of pins, cards and other artefacts of recognition

 

New clause 9 would provide that the Commonwealth may issue pins, cards and other artefacts to veterans in recognition of their military service and to family members of veterans in recognition of the military service of veterans or the demands places on, and the sacrifices made by, families of veterans.

 

The intent of this clause is to provide such items or artefacts in recognition of veterans and their families as part of the broader Veteran Recognition package. The clause will enable the Department to continue to provide other forms of recognition into the future.

 

Part 4 - Other matters

 

Clause 10 - Part 2 does not create or give rise to rights of obligations

 

This clause will provide a clarifying provision that Part 2 of the Bill does not create or give rise to any rights or obligations. 

 

Subclause 10(1) would clarify that Part 2 of the Bill does not, by its terms or operation, create or give rise to any substantial or procedural rights or obligations that are legally enforceable in judicial or other proceedings.

 

Subclause 10(2) would clarify that a failure to comply with Part 2 does not affect the validity of any decision, and is not a ground for the review or challenge of any decision.

 

Subclause 10(3) would clarify that no action, suit or proceeding is to be instituted in reliance on the terms or the operation of Part 2.

 

The intent of this clause is to make it clear that the current review mechanisms under the existing Acts are not disturbed by Part 2 and Part 2 does not broaden or create any new rights or obligations. Further, there can be no legal action or lawsuit on the basis of a breach of Part 2 in either the terms or operation of the Part. 

 

Clause 11 - Act not intended to exclude similar State or territory laws

 

This clause provides a clarifying provision that the Act is not intended to exclude State and Territory laws where they provide for recognition of veterans and their families. 

 

This clause is to acknowledge that States and Territories may have enacted legislation to provide recognition to veterans and their families and this Act will not disturb those laws.  This Act is also not intended to discourage States and Territories to enact laws in the future to recognise the sacrifices made and demands on those who have served or are serving within the Australian Defence Force.

 

Schedule 1 - Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant

 

Schedule 1 is the Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant that the Parliament of Australia endorses on behalf of the people of Australia.  

 

The purpose of the Covenant is to acknowledge the unique nature of military service and the sacrifice demanded of those who commit to defend our nation and their families.