The former Government made a commitment to further consider the recommendations of the Clarke Review that were not acted upon. The Clarke Review had examined perceived anomalies in access to veterans’ entitlements and the level of benefits and support for recipients of Veterans’ Affairs disability pensions.
The former Government announced a response to the revisitation of the Clarke Review on 14 May 2010. Of the 45 recommendations that were revisited 3 had been accepted and already acted upon, 4 had been accepted, 4 deferred for further consideration, 22 referred to the review of Military Compensation Arrangements and 12 recommendations had been rejected. The 4 measures accepted formed part of the 2010/2011 Budget for the Veterans’ Affairs Portfolio.
These measures included providing access under Part IV of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) for ex-defence force British Nuclear Test participants, which provided access to the disability pension, the war widow/er's pension and health care treatment under the more generous ‘reasonable hypothesis’ standard of proof and additional allowances and benefits. More information is available on the benefits which may be allowable for eligible people involved in the British Nuclear Tests.
Certain submarine special operations between 1978 and 1992 were reclassified as both qualifying and operational service under the VEA. This provided a range of benefits to eligible submariners, including disability and war widow/er's pension under the more generous ‘reasonable hypothesis’ standard of proof for operational service and access to the service pension and automatic Gold Card at age 70 for qualifying service.
The domicile age of choice was lowered from 21 to 18 which affected a handful of British Commonwealth and Allied Force veterans of the Second World War who would otherwise have met the domicile tests to be considered Australian veterans but were between the ages of 18 and 21 at enlistment.
Widow/ers of veterans who enter into a de facto relationship with another person prior to claiming the war widow/er’s pension were treated equally to those who marry or remarry, that is, they will not be able to claim the pension. No pensions were removed by this measure.
As part of the 2010 Budget, the previous Government deferred finalisation of a recommendation from the 2003 Review of Veterans’ Entitlements which related to the reclassification of service with BCOF.
The previous Government requested that an independent review be conducted of the historical evidence and its interpretation by DVA and Defence, and a noted expert in veterans’ entitlements law was engaged. This expert report supported the view that BCOF service should not be considered qualifying service under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 and that members of BCOF were not entitled to qualifying service and related benefits based on their BCOF service alone.
The report concluded that the historical evidence relating to BCOF service indicated that it does not meet the applicable eligibility conditions as it was not rendered in a ‘theatre of war’ and there was no promise by the Government of the time of service pension entitlement outside of the criteria that then applied.