Thursday, 15 September 2016
Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016; In Committee
I just want to put on the record Labor's position on this amendment. We will not be supporting the amendment. The government's original Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (2015 Budget Measures) Bill was flawed, and because of the referral of the bill to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade the flaws were highlighted and we now have a superior piece of legislation. In particular, veterans will now be able to appeal determinations of the Veterans' Review Board to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, confident that if successful they can recover costs.
This means that enormous disincentive to challenge the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission has been removed. The introduction of a 28-day statutory reporting time frame for the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission to consider new evidence provided by a claimant is an important step in speeding up the time it takes for a claimant to achieve justice under the appeal system. The changes also allow for an internal review of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission decision as envisaged in the 2011 military compensation review. We believe that these changes make the bill stronger and will put in better protections for veterans, and that is why we are supporting them as part of the Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill before us tonight.