On 1 June 2011, the Veterans' Entitlements Amendment Bill 2011 (the bill)
was introduced into the House of Representatives. By resolution of the Senate,
the provisions of the bill were referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and
Trade Legislation Committee on 15 June 2011 for inquiry and report by 16 August
Purpose of the bill
The bill has three schedules which amend the Veterans' Entitlement
Act 1986 (VEA).
- Schedule 1—creates a prisoner of war recognition supplement. It
defines who is eligible for this supplement and sets down the rate of payment
and the procedures for claiming and determining eligibility for the supplement.
- Schedule 2—clarifies and affirms the original intention of the
compensation offsetting policy in relation to disability pensions, it is
intended to prevent double payments of compensation for the same incapacity.
- Schedule 3—rationalises temporary incapacity allowance and loss
of earnings allowance through the abolition of temporary incapacity allowance
with effect from 20 September 2011. Thereafter, veterans will be entitled to
seek access to the loss-of-earnings allowance.
The committee notes that, when recommending an inquiry into the
provisions of the bill, the Selection of Bills Committee focused on Schedule 2.
It stated that the purpose for the inquiry would be 'to seek further
information about the changes proposed by Schedule 2 and to enable feedback
from the veteran and ex-service community about the changes'.
This approach is consistent with that of the opposition which flagged its
intention to refer the bill for inquiry in order to afford the ex-service
community 'the opportunity to have a say and provide input into the proposed
Conduct of the inquiry
The committee advertised the inquiry on its website and in the Australian
on 22 June 2011 and 6 July 2011. It wrote to relevant ministers and departments
calling for written submissions and also contacted numerous ex-service
organisations. The committee received five submissions which are listed at
The committee considered the submissions and decided to hold a public
hearing on 11 August 2011 in order to further examine the concerns raised by
the Returned and Services League (RSL) in regards to Schedule 2. The witnesses
who appeared are listed in Appendix 2. Prior to the public hearing, the
committee lodged a series of written questions with the Department of Veterans'
Affairs on 27 July 2011, intended to clarify some aspects of the bill. Answers
were provided to the committee on 5 August 2011 and are included in Appendix 3.
The report is divided into two sections. The first is a brief section on
Schedules 1 and 3. Neither measure attracted substantial criticism. Indeed,
Schedule 1 had overwhelming support from both sides in the House of
Representatives and by the ex-service community. With regard to Schedule 3, most
of those who commented on the proposal to remove the temporary incapacity
allowance understood and supported the logic behind this measure. Compensation
offsetting, however, has for some years been a contentious issue for veterans.
In light of this history and the main reason for establishing the inquiry, the
committee considers carefully the evidence before it on this matter.
A number of significant studies of veterans’ entitlements have been
undertaken over recent years. In this report the committee draws on the
findings of two such comprehensive reviews:
- Report of the Review of Veterans’ Entitlements (Clarke
Review), January 2003; and
- Review of Military Compensation Arrangements Report,
released 18 March 2011.
In 2003, the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation
Committee also inquired into aspects of the VEA and the Military Compensation
Scheme. This inquiry focused on the dual eligibility arrangements and the
offsetting calculations applied to veterans and ex-service personnel who
receive a pension and a benefit by way of lump sum under the VEA and SRCA.
The committee thanks all those who assisted with the inquiry.
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page
Back to top