There is a new bill coming before Parliament next week. It is very short and is designed to deal with a flaw which has been discovered in section 9 of the Veterans’ Support Act 2014 (VSA14). This is the section which authorises the Minister to declare a deployment to be qualifying operational service – so those who have taken part in it become eligible for support and services from Veterans’ Affairs.
You can read the bill here: www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2019/0139/latest/LMS203377.html
While section 9 has always been interpreted to mean the Minister can declare deployments at any time – before, during or after they’ve taken place – the law does not specifically spell out that authority. The new bill (the Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill) will make it clear that this can be done.
There have been 14 retrospective declarations made since 2015 (that is declarations that designated deployments which had already finished to be qualifying operational service). The veterans who gained entitlements under these declarations do not have to be concerned. The new legislation will make it clear that these are legal and they will all stand. No one will lose their entitlements. The amendment bill will also clear the way for Veterans’ Affairs to continue the work programme which got underway last year to review deployments which had not previously been considered qualifying operational service. This is likely to mean more veterans will qualify for the services and support of Veterans’ Affairs.
We suggest you keep an eye on the Parliament website as there may be an opportunity to make a submission to Parliament about this bill. If you have any specific questions, please contact Veterans’ Affairs at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Comment – Be aware this does not include any deployments between 1966 and 1975 and will only cover those deployments currently under review since 1974. These deployments can be accessed by clicking HERE
Veterans’ Affairs has stated that deployments prior to 1974 already have Veterans status and, as such, those deployments are entitled to Qualifying Routine Service. Which, entitles those service personnel to nothing more than what Joe Bloggs in the street would receive under ACC entitlements. This is a cop-out!.
CDF’s review of deployments from 1966 to 1975 is scheduled for completion by 30 June 2019, and CDF will advise the Minister of Defence [MOD] of the review outcome sometime during the 2019 third quarter. Note that, this does not for one moment mean that CDF will recommend to MOD that deployments from 1966 to 1974 should be recognised as Qualifying Operational Service but we consider as an Association that taking into account all the supporting documentation we have provided that CDF will too reach this conclusion.
So where does this proposed change to the legislation leave us? Does it enable the Minister to recognise deployments prior to 1974? We have a very short window in which to act and engage your local Member of Parliament to ensure the legislation is broad enough to cater for approval of deployments prior to 1974.