Thursday, 14 May 2020
Defence Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2020; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
The speech read as follows—
I am pleased to introduce the Defence Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2020.
This Bill demonstrates the commitment this Government makes to put veterans and their families first and to assist veterans transitioning from military to civilian life.
As part of the Government's election commitments, this Bill will amend the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme Act 2008 to extend access to the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme from two years to five years after a member leaves the Australian Defence Force. The Bill will also amend the Australian Defence Force Superannuation Act 2015 to clarify that former ADF members to continue to make contributions to their ADF Super accounts. These amendments will mean better outcomes for veterans and their families.
Schedule 1 of the Bill will amend the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme Act 2008. This Scheme is designed toassist current and former ADF members and their families who choose to purchase a home of their own to live in by providing a subsidy.
It recognises the additional difficulties ADF members and their families have in purchasing a home due to the nature of their service.
At present, a veteran generally has access to the Scheme within two years of leaving the ADF. The amendments in this Bill will extend the time after a veteran leaves the ADF when they can apply for a subsidy certificate to five years. The extension of two years to five years will assist veterans transitioning to civilian life by allowing additional time to look for suitable accommodation before applying and accessing the Scheme.
The current two-year limitation is not always enough time for veterans and their families, and this change seeks to ensure they carefully consider their options after leaving the ADF, without being rushed into purchasing a home for fear of losing their entitlement to the subsidy. This will benefit the some 5,500 ADF members who leave each year.
Schedule 2 of the Bill will amend the Australian Defence Force Superannuation Act 2015 to clarify that when an ADF member leaves the ADF, they can continue to make contributions to their ADF Super account.
The Australian Defence Force Superannuation Act 2015 introduced a new superannuation scheme for ADF members from 1 July 2016. This scheme is an accumulation fund, and Defence makes contributions for Permanent ADF members and Reserve members rendering continuous full-time service who are ADF Super members at 16.4 per cent of their salary.
At present, when a veteran leaves the ADF, they can no longer make contributions to ADF Super. Any superannuation contributions from a subsequent civilian employer, for example, must be made to a different superannuation fund.
The Bill will clarify that ADF Super members who have left the ADF, and who provided continuous full-time service for an uninterrupted period of at least 12 months, can continue to make contributions to ADF Super. This is consistent with similar changes that have been made to the Public Sector Superannuation Accumulation Plan for Australian Government employees. This change will be implemented through changes to the ADF Super Trust Deed, to take effect on 1 May 2020.
Minor consequential amendments will be made to the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 to require ADF Super to obtain relevant insurance products for ADF Super members who are no longer serving in the ADF.
This Bill moves to make some small but significant changes to Defence legislation that will benefit veterans and their families.
I commend the Bill.
I rise to speak on the Defence Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2020. The bill will extend the period after a member leaves the Australian Defence Force within which they can access the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme from two to 5 years and allow former ADF members who have provided at least 12 months of service to continue to make contributions to ADF Super. These amendments will allow more veterans and their families to achieve home ownership and improve superannuation choice for former defence personnel. Both changes should improve ADF recruitment and retention and deliver better outcomes for defence personnel and veterans, and Labor supports them. I commend the bill to the Senate.
I'd sincerely like to thank all senators who contributed to the debate on this bill. I also acknowledge the continued tradition of bipartisan support for our veterans community in this latest initiative to support our veterans. The government recognises that transitioning from military service to civilian life is a significant life-changing event for many veterans. It is also a period of uncertainty for their family members. This bill demonstrates the commitment this government has made to supporting ADF members to assist them in their successful transition and also to continuing to support them as veterans.
As part of the government's election commitments, this bill will amend the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme Act 2008. This amendment will extend the period in which members can access the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme after they leave the ADF. The access period will be extended from two years to five years, allowing much needed additional time for former ADF members to look for suitable accommodation without being rushed into purchasing a home for fear of losing their entitlements. The bill will also amend the Australian Defence Force Superannuation Act 2015. Importantly, this amendment allows former ADF members who have provided at least 12 months continuous full-time service to continue to make contributions to their ADF Super accounts once they are in civilian employment.
These amendments offer security and certainty to veterans, and also to their families, in accessing housing support and financial planning for their retirement, which are both so important to the successful and rewarding transition to civilian life. I commend this bill.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.