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2.1.13 Collection of information from third parties
Information or documents relevant to a claim may be requested by the MRCC from third persons. The person from whom the information is sought may include persons employed by a Commonwealth, State or Territory Department or authority.
The information must be requested under section 406 and must specify the period within which the information is required. This period may not be any less than 14 days from the date of the notice.
This section is modelled on section 128 of the VEA and provides that the Commission may give a written notice to any person (this includes third parties who may have information about the claimant) requiring the person to provide any required information or documents. A person may also be asked to attend an interview and answer questions about a relevant matter.
The notice must specify the period within which the person must comply with the notice and the manner in which the person must comply with the notice. If the notice requires someone to appear before a specified staff member assisting the Commission, it must also specify the time and place at which the person must appear. The specified time must be at least 14 days after the notice is given.
If a person is required to appear to give answers to questions, they can be required to give the evidence on oath or affirmation. The employee to whom the information is given can administer the oath or affirmation.
Subclause (9) establishes an offence for failing to comply with the notice issued under this clause and subclause (10) states that the offence is one of strict liability.
The offence does not apply to the extent that the person is not capable of complying with the notice.
The penalty for this offence is 10 penalty units. Since 1 July 2017, one penalty unit is $210.00. However, the amount of the penalty unit is automatically indexed every three years in line with inflation. The indexation occurs by reference to the March quarter CPI figures of the year in which indexation occurs. Hence the amount of a penalty unit will increase over time.
Compliance with this information gathering power is essential to ensure that the necessary information for making various determinations under the MRCA is provided and provided in a timely fashion (for example, relevant medical reports from treating doctors). There exists the potential for claimants to be adversely affected if information crucial to their claim is not provided by third parties within a reasonable time.