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Wednesday, 23 October 1974
Page: 1866


Senator MILLINER - I direct my question to the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation. Further to the reply of the Minister to a question asked yesterday by Senator Keeffe, will the Minister confirm that all repatriation boards will commence to give reasons for their decisions from 1 July 1975? Will this mean the appointment of additional repatriation boards in all States? When does the Minister intend directing the Repatriation Commission to give reasons for its decisions?


Senator WHEELDON - In answer to a question by Senator Keeffe yesterday I said that the repatriation boards would begin giving reasons for their decisions on 1 July 1975. In fact I misinformed the Senate in that answer. The boards will commence giving their reasons for decisions on 1 January 1975, 6 months earlier than the date which I announced. This certainly will mean a considerable amount of extra work for repatriation boards in preparing reasons for their decisions. It would appear from an estimate of the additional work that will be required that an extra board will be necessary in New South Wales and also in Victoria in order to cope with the additional work involved in the new procedure.

The boards in the other States are not full-time boards. They are part-time boards and it would seem at this stage that the way in which the additional work could be coped with would be by having the boards sitting more frequently than they do at present, or possibly by making one or more of them full-time boards. It does not seem at this stage that apart from in New South Wales and Victoria additional repatriation boards will be required. The great advantage in the requirement that repatriation boards give reasons for their determinations will be that dissatisfied applicants for repatriation benefits will have a much firmer basis on which to found appeals they may subsequently make than would be available if they were, merely told, as in the past, that their applications had been rejected.

As entitlement appeal tribunals are already making their decisions available and the repatriation boards will do so very early next year, the only tribunal determining entitlements to repatriation benefits which will not be making its reasons for decisions available as from 1 January next year will be the Repatriation Commission. It is proposed and hoped that procedures will be adopted whereby the Repatriation Commission, which is the first stage of appeal from a repatriation board, will also make its reasons for its decisions available. Some complexities are involved because the members of the Commission are also administrative officers of the Repatriation Department but I hope that in the fairly near future I will be able to announce to the Senate that appropriate steps have been taken for the Repatriation Commission also to make its reasons for decisions available.







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