Independent Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie has called on Crossbench and Opposition Senators to block the Veterans’ Affairs Legislation Amendment (Digital Readiness and Other Measures) Bill 2016, which will give an official from the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), powers to publicly release personal information about veterans.
“This Bill is proof the Australian Government cares more for its political reputation than it does for our veterans’ health. According to the Government’s summary of the Bill, this bill will ‘enable the secretary to disclose information about a particular case or class of cases where the secretary certifies that it is necessary in the public interest to do so’,” Senator Lambie said.
“This Bill also proves that a toxic and dangerous culture has developed in DVA where managers are forced by politicians to make decisions mainly designed to limit negative publicity and the health of veterans’ comes a poor second.
“And I see no mention of draft rules limiting Australians’ freedom of speech that were shown to me during a Committee hearing. I challenge the Liberal Government to bring those rules out for public consultation, instead of sneaking them under the radar through regulations,” Senator Lambie said.
“What does the Government have to hide within these rules that they cannot be included within the Digital Readiness Bill?
“Because of appalling veteran compensation laws, policies, and under-resourcing, we’re in the middle of an avoidable veterans’ suicide epidemic. This Bill, and the draft rules the government plans to push through regulations are designed to punish veterans and their families who try to speak out about government and bureaucratic dysfunction.
“Ultimately, this will take away veterans’ and their families’ freedom of speech.
“It’s clear it will take a Royal Commission to bring incompetent DVA managers and their political bosses to justice for the unnecessary deaths and harm they’ve caused to the veteran community,” Senator Lambie said.