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Role and Responsibilities of a Delegate of the Repatriation Commission
Delegate must be familiar with material before them
When making any formal decision, the delegate must have read and become familiar with all relevant information. A decision cannot be made if the delegate doubts the validity of the information, or if it is incomplete.
Delegate's responsibility to be informed
It is the responsibility of each delegate of the Commission to ensure that they are informed of and apply any recent legislative changes or Federal Court decisions which are binding on the Commission and affect the decisions they make.
Application of Commission Guidelines
The Repatriation Commission issues guidelines on how the VEA is to be applied. These are based on the Government's intention when framing the legislation and are issued to promote consistency in decision making. These guidelines:
- must be consistent with the Act; and
- be of general application rather than apply to specific cases.
Where the Commission has endorsed a guideline, it is treated as official policy and is to be applied in the decision making process.
Example of Commission Guideline
When determining whether someone has rendered qualifying service, the legislation requires that the person “incurred danger from hostile forces of the enemy.” The Commission's Policy is that a person is accepted as having incurred danger if their service in Darwin was for three consecutive months during the period it was subject to enemy bombing raids.
Administering discretionary legislation
Discretionary legislation, where it appears in the VEA, requires a delegate to exercise discretion. This means the delegate is required to form an opinion and make a decision based on the available evidence.
Resources available to assist delegates to form an opinion
Example of discretionary legislation
When deciding whether an asset is a financial asset, s52CA(1) (b) of the VEA states “if the person has assets (including real property) that are, in the Repatriation Commission's opinion, used for the purposes of carrying on that primary production”. This requires a delegate to exercise their own judgement, based on available evidence, regarding the use of that asset.
Administering non discretionary legislation
Non discretionary legislation does not involve any exercise of discretion or judgement but merely the findings of fact.
Example of non discretionary legislation
S36(1) (c) of the VEA states that one of the requirements to be eligible for a service pension is that a veteran must have reached pension age. The VEA specifies what is meant by pension age and the evidence will establish the fact.
Some sections of the VEA require a delegate to exercise their discretion when making a decision. Sections containing passages such as “in the Repatriation Commission's opinion” are discretionary, as they require the delegate to use their own judgement based on the available evidence.