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Monday, 20 June 2011
Page: 6465

Mr SIMPKINS (Cowan) (17:26): I welcome the opportunity to speak for a while longer on the Veterans' Entitlements Amendment Bill 2011. I will not delay the House too much. When my contribution was suspended last week, I had spoken for some time about the privations and the adversity that our former prisoners of war had endured in the Second World War, with particular emphasis on the prisoners of the Japanese Imperial Army. I also spoke, as everyone has in this debate, about the need to acknowledge and express our appreciation of those veterans, those prisoners of war. The privations and the suffering that they have endured make them noteworthy of such considerations, as we have provided in the past as a coalition government and as the parliament should see passed today.

When we look upon the contributions made to this country, it is right that we have a special regard for all those who have served in uniform. Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his country. And it is perfectly true of those who have served and those who continue to serve in uniform for our nation that they were prepared, and our current soldiers are prepared, to lay down their lives for our nation. It is therefore right that they should get appropriate consideration for the commitment that they have made. Serving in the Navy, the Army and the Air Force is not a normal job; it is taking up a life where the risks are greater than in other sectors within our community.

It is therefore important as well that, when we speak of the entitlements of our veterans, we must also have regard for everyone who has served our country. What last week revealed was that, although we may have bipartisan support for measures such as those that apply for prisoners of war, when it actually comes to the need for fairer indexation of military superannuation pensions, the comparison is very stark indeed. There are some that oppose fair indexation. The government, the Greens and Independent Senator Xenophon oppose fair indexation. Unfortunately, the Greens live in a fool's paradise where you can get by in the modern world without a defence force, when the reality is that sometimes you just have to fight, like those diggers, sailors and airmen did in past wars, because there is just no other option. So there are those who are opponents of a fair and just military superannuation system. Again, unfortunately it seems as though the government has failed to deliver what it promised in 2007 in the time since. It is really about time that fair indexation is introduced. We have learnt. We are committed to the course. I am committed to fair indexation.

I thank my constituents for their advice and their feedback on these sorts of matters. I thank particularly a regular email contributor to my knowledge, Mr Terry 'Maddog' Malligan, from Madeley. I thank the members of the Ballajura RSL, who are holding their annual quiz night this coming Saturday night. I wish them all the best for that event and I will see them there. I thank the members of the Wanneroo-Joondalup RSL. In fact, I thank all the veterans and the ex-service men and women who have contacted me to tell me of their views on this matter.

I have looked through this bill and I have looked at what it aims to achieve. I say that we certainly owe a debt of gratitude to those who have served under the most hideous of conditions as prisoners of war. I also acknowledge all those who have worn the uniform and have been prepared to do what needs to be done for this nation's best interests. When I look at what has happened in the past and at the debt of gratitude that we really owe to all those who have served in uniform, not just prisoners of war, I look forward to fair indexation of superannuation being addressed. Unfortunately, it would appear that it will not be addressed until we are returned to government. I look forward to that at the earliest opportunity so that the coalition can provide full and fair indexation, in accordance with our last policy and in accordance with the wishes of the uniformed community, past and present, within our great country. This is what we owe them. This is what we need to come through with. We look forward to delivering that in the future.