Referral of inquiry
On 21 March 2013, the Senate referred the provisions of the Veterans'
Affairs Legislation Amendment (Military Compensation Review and Other Measures)
Bill 2013 (bill) to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation
Committee (committee) for inquiry and report by 14 May 2013.
On 14 May 2013, the Senate extended the time for reporting to 17 June 2013.
Military compensation schemes
There are several pieces of legislation which form the military
compensation arrangements in Australia. These include:
- the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004
- the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA);
- the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA);
- the Defence Act 1903.
The benefits a person may be entitled to when claiming for compensation
will vary depending on: the date on which the injury or illness occurred, the
period of service to which an injury or disease can be related, the type of
service, and the period of time served.
In particular, the MRCA was enacted to bring together the rehabilitation
and compensation provisions for all members of the Australian Defence Force
(ADF), cadets, cadet instructors and members of the Reserve Forces. It incorporated
the rehabilitation focus and many of the benefit structures of the SRCA and,
according to the Government's response, includes some desirable features of the
VEA. The MRCA is the rehabilitation and compensation scheme that covers ADF
members currently serving, including those deployed overseas.
Review of Military Compensation
On 8 April 2009, the then Minister for Veterans' Affairs, the Hon Alan
Griffin MP, announced a Review of Military Compensation Arrangements (Review). The
Review was intended to 'examine the operation of the current military
compensation schemes with specific reference to the [MRCA]'.
The Review was conducted by a Steering Committee, consisting mainly of senior
public servants, chaired by Mr Ian Campbell PSM, Secretary of the
Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA).
On 18 March 2011, the Review's report was released. The Hon Warren Snowdon
MP, Minister for Veterans' Affairs (Minister) stated that the Review report
found that 'there are no fundamental flaws in what is a complex and relatively
new scheme' but that 'some improvements could be made'.
The Review report made 108 recommendations covering a wide range of issues,
including 28 recommendations calling for legislative change. Feedback on the
report was invited from defence and veteran communities.
The Government responded to the report of the Review on 8 May 2012 and
announced it would commit $17.4 million over the next four years to implementing
the recommendations accepted from the Review. As part of its response the government
decided to implement 96 of the Review's recommendations—accepting 94 recommendations,
either in full or with modification, and replacing two recommendations with 'favourable
In particular, the Minister highlighted a number of initiatives, including:
- A new method for calculating permanent impairment compensation across
multiple Acts (or transitional claims) under the [MRCA]. All those who have
claimed permanent impairment compensation under MRCA and been subject to the
method for permanent impairment across multiple Acts, since the Act commenced
on 1 July 2004, to be reassessed with many receiving increased compensation;
- Around 6000 former Australian Defence Force members with chronic health
conditions accepted under the [SRCA], subject to a needs assessment showing
long-term treatment needs, to receive a White Repatriation Health Card for
specific conditions and the supplementary payment for pharmaceuticals;
- Earlier access to compensation with claims under permanent impairment
compensation under the MRCA for multiple conditions receiving compensation as
each condition stabilises, rather than having to wait for all conditions to
- The Eligible Young Person periodic payment, under MRCA, to be increased
to match the SRCA equivalent. (Current weekly rates are $84.94 under the MRCA
and $126.22 under the SRCA);
- Compensation payable for financial advice under MRCA, for certain
beneficiaries who have made a choice about how they want to receive their
benefits, to increase to $2400 (currently $1544); and
- Greater flexibility for future wholly dependent partners in the way they
receive compensation with the option to convert part of their compensation to a
lump sum payment.
DVA indicated that consultation on the contents of the draft bill was
conducted with representatives of the Ex-Service Organisation Round Table in
Canberra on 7 March 2013:
Attendees were guided through marked up legislation for
changes to implement 19 recommendations and one observation. They were
also provided with draft instruments implementing three recommendations and
briefed on the outcomes of work on three other recommendations.
The representatives were invited to provide feedback on the
draft Bill and instruments during the session, and also invited to provide
further feedback once they had time to consider the proposed changes.
Conduct of inquiry
The committee advertised its inquiry on its webpage, and in The
Australian, calling for submissions to be lodged by 18 April 2013. The
committee also wrote directly to a range of people and organisations likely to
have an interest in matters covered in the bill, drawing their attention to the
inquiry and inviting them to make written submissions. Details of the inquiry,
the bill and associated documents were placed on the committee's website www.aph.gov.au/senate_fadt.
The committee received 11 submissions which are listed at Appendix 1.
The committee also wrote to DVA to seek its response to concerns raised in
submissions. The committee received answers from DVA to its written questions
on notice on 4 June 2013. All public submissions and the DVA answers
were published on the committee's website.
Structure of report
Chapter 2 contains descriptions of amendments to be made by the bill and
outlines the issues raised by submitters. Chapter 3 contains the committee's
view and recommendation.
The committee thanks those organisations and individuals who made
submissions and provided evidence to the committee's inquiry.
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