SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
SHAYNE NEUMANN MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR VETERANS’ AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE PERSONNEL
MEMBER FOR BLAIR
THE MORRISON-JOYCE GOVERNMENT IS FAILING VETERANS
Veterans and other Australians are suffering massive delays in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, in large part because the Morrison-Joyce Government has stacked the Tribunal with an ever-growing number of Liberal mates who can’t or won’t do their jobs.
Since 2013, the Liberals have appointed at least 79 of their mates to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, where full-time senior members are paid almost $400,000 a year and even junior members are paid at least $190,000.
Now it’s veterans who are paying the price for the Liberal trashing of the AAT, with the Defence Force Welfare Association warning lengthy and ‘unreasonable’ wait times at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal are having a serious impact on the health and financial welfare of veterans.
The median wait time for appeals by veterans to the AAT is now 54 weeks, with fewer than half of applications finalised within a year.
These delays come on top of the already long wait times for initial applications to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, with the association declaring, ‘[i]t is not unusual for some veterans’ claims to take four years from initial application to finalisation at the AAT’.
It’s just not good enough and veterans deserve better.
This is why Labor called for the Royal Commission into defence and veteran suicide to look at the impact of DVA claims processing and the whole veteran support system.
The delays at the AAT are particularly galling – and inexcusable – given the large number of members appointed by the Morrison-Joyce Government who are not doing any Tribunal work.
AAT records show that, since July 2018, many part-time members of the Tribunal have gone long periods without finalising any applications. In 2019-20 alone, nine part-time members undertook no official business.
Even some full-time members of the Tribunal have been doing little or no work, with a number of full-time members completing fewer than five applications a year – despite taking home their full salaries.
There are many dedicated and hard-working Tribunal members who, on average, finalise well over 100 applications per year – and if the Government appointed more of them everyone would be better off.
The Government needs to stop treating the AAT as a cash cow for Liberal mates.
An Albanese Labor Government would reduce AAT wait times by appointing more members who are actually up to the job and turn up for work.
FRIDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2021