Thursday, 15 September 2016
Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016; In Committee
I am just going to return for a moment to the costs issue that we have been discussing. I am reading an extract from the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee inquiry into the Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (2015 Budget Measures) Bill 2015, schedule 2, which was tabled in September last year. Paragraph 2.19, on page 13, reads:
A number of submitters raised concerns regarding the AAT's ability to order that the costs of proceedings, outlined in section 357, be paid by DVA in cases where the AAT finds in favour of the claimant. The Defence Force Welfare Association described the retention of section 359, which states that sections 356, 357 and 358 do not apply to reviews of determinations of the VRB, as an 'oversight', commenting that:
We notice that the Bill contains no provision for removal of that part of S359 which provides that S357 does not apply to review by the AAT of a determination of the VRB. We feel sure that retention of this provision is an oversight, and we think, a serious one. S357 provides for award of costs against the Commonwealth in some circumstances, in the event of a decision by the AAT in favour of the Veteran ... we hold strongly to the view that just treatment of Veterans' claims ought not to depend on their ability to meet the costs of access to the ordinary processes that are put in place to deal with those claims.
Can the minister please clarify whether the Defence Force Welfare Association's concerns still stand?