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Thursday, 20 September 2007
Page: 293

Senator LUDWIG (10:09 PM) —I seek leave to incorporate my speech on the Veterans’ Entitlements Amendment (Disability, War Widow and War Widower Pensions) Bill 2007.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

As the Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs made clear in the House this morning, we want more than anything for it to have speedy passage through the Parliament, with no further delays for veterans and war widows than they have already endured.

Labor has unqualified support for the Bill’s measures which seek to restore some of the value of the disability and war widow and widower pensions and ensure against their future continuing erosion.

The Bill will implement the commitments made first by Labor and then by the Howard Government to introduce new indexation arrangements for the general rate disability pension and for the previously non-indexed component of the war widow and widower pension. These rates will be indexed twice annually with respect to both the Consumer Price Index and Male Total Average Weekly Earnings.

This Bill will also increases the rates of extreme disablement adjustment disability pension, raise the general rate disability component of all disability pensions by 5%, and will increase the previously non-indexed component of war widow and widower pension by $10 a fortnight, measures which Labor supports in full.

The erosion in value of the domestic component of the war widows’ pensions has been a longstanding concern for veterans and Australian War Widows, and no doubt, this action on the part of the Government is long overdue. This Bill’s provisions gives veterans and war widows some financial certainty, which they both need and richly deserve. It will ensure that their standards of living no longer erode relative to community norms, as they have done for the past 11 years of the Howard Government.

I warmly congratulate the members of the ex-service community who have lobbied the Government for these changes over a long period of time. This is primarily the result of their hard work, and this Bill is their victory, and the victory of the veteran community.