Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 March 2021) . . Page.. 748 ..
in 10 years we are not having to have another royal commission—that we are not having to come back to deal with these issues again but that issues can be dealt with on an ongoing basis.
I have circulated an amendment. It is a pretty simple one. It takes on everything that Ms Davidson has put into her motion up to “calls on”. It strengthens the motion. It notes that the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention has the powers of a royal commission and has the additional benefit of being ongoing. It notes that the national commissioner has received strong support from veterans, medical, suicide prevention and mental health organisations. It notes that Dr Bernadette Boss CSC was appointed as the interim commissioner in November last year. It calls on this Assembly to support the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention. It calls on Ms Davidson to write to the federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs supporting the national commissioner and asking that he consider a separate royal commission into veteran suicide following the successful passage of legislation for the national commissioner.
As ministers here would be aware, it is not for an Assembly to establish a royal commission—or, as it is here, an inquiry under the Inquiries Act. It is for a minister. Establishing a permanent, ongoing process and then looking towards a royal commission is a win-win. It achieves everything that we are seeking to do in this space.
Importantly, it deals with the potentially mixed views out there. When I spoke to people today, the view expressed by the Defence Force Welfare Association was that the last thing we need is another royal commission that is just a snapshot in time and takes a whole bunch of resources, time and effort out of what they are doing. I do not necessarily share that view. I am not opposed to a royal commission in any sense. But why not do this in a collaborative way, in a way that unites the veteran community, rather than seeking to, in a sense, pick a winner and say to those other veterans who have a view, “No; I am going to impose what I want to do”?
I will be disappointed if the government will not support my amendment, because it is an action that will result in something constructive. It will be constructive rather than what we have at the moment, which is calling on the federal government to do something. We have had this many times in this place. We all agree that that is not within the remit of this Assembly. We cannot call on another parliament to do something. It just does not happen.
Ms Cheyne: Yes, we can. We absolutely can. We did it today.
MR HANSON: We are writing a letter. Exactly the process that you followed, Ms Cheyne, is what I am suggesting. What I am saying is, “Rather than just this bunch of words here that do not result in anything, do exactly what Ms Cheyne did, exactly what she did.” Let’s have a letter expressing the view of our Assembly as a way forward that is a united view of this place and seeks to address all the views of veterans that are expressed out there that I have spoken on. There is a way forward. There is a way forward that is bipartisan and that addresses the broader expression of concern from veterans. I hope that is the will of this Assembly.