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Government announces veteran suicide commission


Paul Hayes


5/02/2020 11:15:58 AM

The rolling inquiry will be ‘bigger and better’ than a royal commission, according to the Prime Minister.

Australian veterans
The new National Commissioner for Defence and Suicide Prevention will have all the powers of a royal commission.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has appointed an independent commissioner to examine suicide among Australian veterans.
 
The new National Commissioner for Defence and Suicide Prevention will have all the powers of a royal commission to investigate the more than 400 suicides among serving and ex-service men and women since 2001. A resulting report is due in 18 months.
 
‘The first task of this commissioner will be to look at a whole series of cases in the past to ensure that we are getting the lessons from those,’ Prime Minister Morrison told the Nine Network.
 
‘It is bigger and better than a royal commission.
 
‘We can’t look back. We have to look forward.’
 
Unlike a royal commission, Prime Minister Morrison said, the new inquiry will be able to keep evidence private.
 
‘I think we’ve come up with a much better way that brings everybody together,’ he said.
 
Federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese said he supports the new commisioner role.
 
‘There have been too many suicides of veterans, a loss of life, of people who have served their country,’ he told reporters.
 
‘Quite clearly, we need a thorough investigation and the announcement that this will occur with the powers of a royal commission is one that, on face-value, Labor supports.’
 
The Productivity Commission’s most recent report found that total Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) spending for veterans has nearly halved over the past decade, from $557 million in 2009–10 to $263 million in 2018–19.
 
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