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Wednesday, 2 June 2010
Page: 5024

Mrs MARKUS (5:57 PM) —I would like to get some facts on the table in this debate on the Governance of Australian Government Superannuation Schemes Bill 2010 and cognate bills. I can say with utmost clarity that, when I called a number of ex-service community leaders after these bills had been tabled, they had not received a call from either the Minister for Finance and Deregulation or the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. They had not seen the bills nor had they been consulted. As soon as I contacted them, I made sure that they had access to the bills. We then consulted about it. The coalition made sure that we heard what their concerns were. As a result of that and the coalition calling for a Senate inquiry, we saw over 190 submissions from the ex-service community, from ex-service organisations and from individuals.

This is a concern of every serving member of the Defence Force. These bills are going to impact their future and current superannuation payments. It is also going to have a serious impact on the veterans community. This is a critical issue that impacts not just veterans but current serving members of the Defence Force. From my consultation with the ex-service community, my understanding is that, while some may agree with the amendments that the government has put forward and feel that those amendments go some way towards addressing their concerns, many feel that the amendments have not gone far enough. They feel that the amendments have not gone far enough in acknowledging the uniqueness of service of our current personnel, who lay their lives on the line on a daily basis and continue to do so as we speak, or in recognising the service of those who are currently receiving benefits from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs or those who are relying on their superannuation to sustain them in their retirement.

We need to get some facts straight here. While there have been some improvements, they do not go far enough. While there may have been some consultation, it was not before these bills were on the floor of the House. In addition, the issues raised in the consultation that has taken place have not been responded to 100 per cent. Not everything the ex-service community has asked for has been met. So I have to stand with my colleagues. It is important that we stand and fight for each individual digger, for each individual sailor and for each individual airman and airwoman who is currently serving or will be serving in the future.