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Thursday, 14 March 2013
Page: 2214

Dr JENSEN (Tangney) (16:30): Six months from today, Australians can vote for fairness for our military veterans by electing a coalition government in Canberra. Only the coalition is committed to the fair indexation of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits scheme and the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme military superannuation pensions. Under a coalition government, DFRB and DFRDB superannuants aged 55 and over will have their superannuation pensions indexed in the same way as age and service pensions. I have been on this since we were in government. Signing the pledge gives a written guarantee to the 57,000 military superannuants under these schemes that the coalition will keep faith with those who have served and protected Australia. This will ensure that these veterans and their families will have access to fair, just and equitable indexation of their superannuation entitlements.

In my time as a member, I have been in regular contact with members of the Australian Federation of Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Ex-Service Men and Women, West Australian Branch, known affectionately as TPIs. TPI members in my electorate have studiously and consistently advocated for the fair indexation of their pensions. As far back as 2007, Labor led people to believe it would provide a fairer deal for ex-service men and women. Labor has never delivered. Since the 2010 election, the coalition has twice tried to pass legislation through the parliament to deliver fair indexation to ex-service men and women and their families. At every attempt, Labor and the Greens have combined their numbers to defeat the legislation.

Currently, DFRDB and DFRB members have their superannuation indexed only in line with movements in the CPI. The coalition's plan provides for these superannuants, aged 55 and over, to have their superannuation pensions indexed in the same way as other Australian government income support pensions. Twice yearly, pensions will be indexed to the higher of the consumer price index, male total average weekly earnings or the pensioner beneficiary living cost index. This will provide increases for up to 57,000 retired Australian Defence Force members, with superannuation pension indexation which better reflects changes in the costs of living.

These changes have long been sought by veterans organisations, including the TPI ex-service men and women in my electorate of Tangney. These are honourable men and women who served Australia, and the coalition believes this fair indexation is the right thing to do given the nature and risks of military service. Australia's service personnel, past and present, after giving so much to their nation, deserve to live their lives with financial security.

Labor's commitment at the 2007 election to fix military superannuation has become another of its many broken promises. The Gillard Labor government has promised much to those in the veteran community but, as I have heard consistently from local TPI representatives, has repeatedly failed to deliver, due to its self-interest and poll driven policy paralysis. This Labor government is probably unable and unwilling to find the funds necessary to meet its commitment to veterans and their military superannuation reform requests because of its tide of waste. There has been more energy spent criticising the coalition's plan by this government than coming up with anything of its own. I say ex-service men and women deserve more than your empty rhetoric.

The coalition have consulted widely and listened carefully to the views put forward by veterans, ex-service personnel and others. Our plan is fully costed and fully funded. If the Labor government is re-elected in September, veterans will be worse off and will not get the fair indexation they deserve. Our veterans and their families deserve fair indexation. A coalition government will deliver it and fund it in our first budget.