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Monday, 22 September 2008
Page: 8078


Mrs MARKUS (3:07 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. Why won’t the minister support the coalition’s proposal to increase the single war veterans’ entitlements by $30 a week?


Mr GRIFFIN (Minister for Veterans’ Affairs) —I thank the member for her question. This is the most recent policy, I take it? This is today’s policy; it is not last week’s policy? I note the previous opposition leader is not in the chamber, but he was quite clearly on the record—

Opposition members interjecting—


Mr GRIFFIN —I apologise. He is moving around. Maybe it is a comeback. The Leader of the Opposition at the time the original stunt was announced made it clear that veterans were not included.


Mr Baldwin interjecting


The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Paterson.


Mr GRIFFIN —It was because this side of the House raised the issue that they had excluded thousands and thousands of veterans, amongst a whole range of other people. That is why there has been some change. But when was the change?


Mr Baldwin interjecting


The SPEAKER —The member for Paterson is warned!


Mr GRIFFIN —It was snuck into the Senate as a late change—an amendment to a notice of motion. Even then, when you go to the question of what was included in the wording, there is an argument that some veterans have been excluded.

Opposition members interjecting—


Mr GRIFFIN —Have a look at the partner service pension. Have a look at your wording there. You have missed out a few there as well, not to mention veterans with disabilities in some cases.


Mrs Markus —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Will you or won’t you agree to the $30 rise?


The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Greenway will resume her seat.


Mr GRIFFIN —Let us not forget that, once again, after a decade of inaction, they have finally discovered some policy.


Mr Baldwin interjecting


The SPEAKER —The member for Paterson will leave the chamber for one hour.

The member for Paterson then left the chamber.


Mr GRIFFIN —Finally, after a decade, we find that they have some policy. We all know that the opposition only discovered veterans affairs in the last year before the election. Let us have a look at what has occurred since the election. Here are just a few examples. This government, when in opposition, committed to an inquiry into the deseal-reseal issue.

Opposition members interjecting—


Mr GRIFFIN —Your government refused to back it until you became the opposition, and then the shadow minister endorsed it. She said, ‘We support this inquiry.’ Of course, when you were in government it was ‘no’.


Mr Hockey —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is a really simple question about why the minister will not support the coalition’s proposal to increase the single war veterans’ entitlements by $30 a week.


The SPEAKER —The minister is responding to the question. He will bring his question to a conclusion.


Mr GRIFFIN —I will bring my answer to a conclusion, Mr Speaker. The point with respect to this is that, once again, it is a simple question. But the real answer is what you did not do. The fact is that you never took action when you could have and you have now ended up in a situation of trying to reduce the concerns of pensioners in this society to a stunt.


The SPEAKER —I remind the minister to address his remarks through the chair.