The committee received four submissions on the bill, three of which supported it. The fourth submitter supported the intent of the amendment and asked that the bill be extended to allow the Minister to declare any service that took place before 1974 as qualifying operational service. The committee considered that the bill as introduced would allow the Minister to make such declarations and therefore considered that the bill needs no amendments.
The bill amends section 9 of the Veterans’ Support Act 2014 to provide for the making of declarations in relation to historical deployments (clause 4 inserting new section 9(5A) and 5(B)). The 2014 Act changed the criteria for qualifying operational service as the previous War Pensions Act 1954 had only referred to service in war and emergencies. However, interpretation of s9 of the 2014 Act could not be stretched to provide jurisdiction to make declarations in respect of historical deployments. The bill was developed to address the discrepancy between the Act as drafted and its interpretation in practice.
The bill was introduced on 23 May 2019 by the Minister for Veterans Ron Mark. The Act will come into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.