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Tuesday, 21 August 2012
Page: 9461


Mr BILLSON (Dunkley) (21:27): The legislation that we are debating today is about fairness and justice to the veteran community. Deputy Speaker Scott, you and I were former veterans' affairs ministers and we appreciated incredibly strong support from Prime Minister Howard and the Howard government to bring about many changes throughout the veteran system to make sure it was responsive to the changing requirements of the veteran community. I invite the Labor members opposite to delve a bit deeper and they would see it was actually me who started the Podger review to investigate arrangements relating to military superannuation. We were very supportive of some ideas to bring about fairness and justice. It is great to see that even though the coalition is not in government it continues to provide leadership in veterans' affairs and Defence personnel matters.

The veteran community in Dunkley knows very clearly that there is only one side of parliament that will bring about justice in the indexation of DFRDB superannuation payments. There is only one side of politics that recognises that it is one thing to talk about support for the veterans' community but my commitment and that of the coalition was always to provide best-of-breed support for those men and women that we put in harm's way. That is a responsibility that all of us in this place should have and it is certainly a responsibility that seems to be beyond the current veterans' affairs minister. I am courteous and too respectful to go through some of the titles that the current minister is afforded. I am, too, thoughtful about how strongly the veterans' community feels about the lack of representation and advocacy they get from the Labor Party and the Gillard government. But I am aware of the vivid feeling and the strength of support for the coalition's action to bring about fairness in the indexation of DFRDB.

I also want to again pay tribute to our Vietnam veterans' community.

Last weekend was Vietnam Veterans Day. That date is an important date, not only for the veterans community but also for the commemoration of the Battle of Long Tan. It has taken a long time for this nation to right the wrongs of the way in which it treated the veterans coming back from Vietnam, and the measures before the House and the amendment that the coalition has offered are a further example of how it is the Liberal-National Party that can always be counted on to support the veterans community and the serving men and women of the ADF.