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6.11 Special Assistance
Last amended: 3 July 2014
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What is special assistance?
Section 106 of the VEA provides for the Repatriation Commission to grant to a veteran, member of the Forces or member of a Peacekeeping Force, or their dependant, 'assistance or benefits of such a kind, and of such an amount or value, as it deems fit in all the circumstances of the case.' This allows for payments to be made that are not covered by other provisions in the Act. Special assistance can only be granted on express provision by the Repatriation Commission.
When can special assistance be granted?
Special assistance cannot be granted in circumstances in which a person is eligible for an allowance or other assistance under a different provision of the VEA: this highlights that it is intended to apply where other provisions are inadequate to cover particular circumstances, or where there is no coverage at all in the circumstances. It is also not payable where the veteran is solely a veteran by virtue of service after the commencement date of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA). However, that person may be eligible for special assistance under section 424 of the MRCA.
Special assistance has only been granted in the past in circumstances defined by specific regulations. Two such sets of regulations are currently in force: the Veterans' Entitlements (Special Assistance) Regulations 1999 and the Veterans' Entitlements (Special Assistance — Motorcycle Purchase) Regulations 2001.
Veterans' Entitlements (Special Assistance) Regulations 1999 (Crisis Payment)
This payment is discussed in Chapter 3.12 Crisis Payment.
Veterans' Entitlements (Special Assistance — Motorcycle Purchase) Regulations 2001 (Motorcycle Benefit)
These regulations provide for a payment of 1/11 of the value of a motorcycle or motorcycle part to compensate for the imposition of GST. The maximum value of the motorcycle or motorcycle part is the 'car limit' (also referred to as the car depreciation limit), specified in subsection 40-230 (3) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (as a guide, the car limit for the 2017-18 financial year is $57,581). This limit is reviewed each financial year and may change. The GST inclusive market value of the car should disregard any value that is attributed to modifications that are made to the car solely for the purpose of adapting the car for driving by the person or transporting the person. The link at the end of this text takes you to the declaration form required for GST exemption. The definition of a 'motorcycle' includes vehicles with no more than four wheels that are steered by handle bars.
For the purposes of this regulation, the value of the purchased motorcycle can include optional extras and accessories where those extras and accessories are purchased as part of the same transaction as the bike itself. Where extras and accessories are bought at a separate time as part of a separate transaction, they would not be eligible for the GST exemption unless they are replacement parts.
This payment is available to veterans (including members of the Forces or members of a Peacekeeping Force) who:
- are receiving a (permanent) Special Rate disability pension, or
- have lost a leg or both arms as a result of a war-caused or defence-caused injury or disease, or
- have had a leg or both arms rendered permanently and completely useless as a result of a war-caused or defence-caused injury or disease.
A veteran who on or after 1 July 2000 purchases a motorcycle on which GST is payable, and intends to use the motorcycle for his or her personal transportation (whether or not as the driver) will be eligible for the benefit.
After a person receives the motorcycle benefit in relation to a motorcycle or purchases a GST-free car, the benefit will not be payable for any subsequent motorcycle purchase until:
- two years have passed; or
- the earlier purchased motorcycle or car has been used to transport the person for distances totalling more than 40,000 kilometres; or
- the earlier purchased motorcycle or car is no longer reasonably capable of being used for the purpose for which a vehicle of that kind is ordinarily used and is not insured for its replacement value; or
- the Commission is satisfied that there are special circumstances justifying the purchase of the motorcycle.
In addition, if the Commission finds that a person owns a GST-free car during the period described in the previous paragraph, the Commission will decide that the person must repay all or part of the benefit. In effect, this means that a person cannot receive a GST-free car and a GST rebate on a motorcycle at the same time.
For a payment for a motorcycle part, the veteran must:
- purchase a motorcycle part on which GST is payable, on or after 1 July 2000, and
- intend to use the part for a motorcycle for which motorcycle benefit was previously granted, and
- intend to use the part to replace a part that is no longer fit for its purpose due to wear and tear, or was destroyed, damaged or stolen and was not insured for its replacement value.
The rebate value should be calculated based on the GST-inclusive market value of the motorcycle. Where a trade-in forms part of the consideration for the motorcycle, the GST-inclusive market value is not reduced by the value of the trade-in for the purposes of working out the rebate amount.
For the purposes of Part VI of the VEA, a reference to a veteran is taken to be a reference to:
- a veteran as defined in subsection 5C(1) of the VEA;
- a member of the Forces as defined in subsection 68(1) of the VEA; or
- a member of a Peacekeeping Force as defined in subsection 68(1) of the VEA.
For the purposes of Part VII of the VEA, according to subsection 5C(1), veteran means a person (including a deceased person):
- who is taken to have rendered eligible war service, or
- in respect of whom a pension is, or pensions are, payable under subsection 13(6) and
- in Part III and Part VIIC of the VEA includes a person who is:
- a Commonwealth veteran, or
- an allied veteran, or
- an allied mariner.
A member of the forces is a person who served in the defence force for a continuous period that commenced after 7 December 1972 and has the type of service required in sections 69, 69A and 69B of the VEA.
“Member of a Peacekeeping Force means a person who is serving, or has served, with a Peacekeeping Force outside Australia as an Australian member, or as a member of the Australian contingent, of that Peacekeeping Force."
A dependant of a veteran (including a deceased veteran) is:
- the partner;
- non-illness separated spouse;
- widow(er) (other than a widow(er) who marries or remarries); or
- a child of the veteran.