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Defence Minister lets down SAS soldiers - again.

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Senator the Hon David Johnston Shadow Minister for Defence I Senator for Western Australia Media Release DEFENCE MINISTER LETS DOWN SAS SOLDIERS - AGAIN Serving SAS soldiers are still burdened with debts of tens of thousands of dollars from a pay bungle two weeks after the Defence Minister promised he would look after them. Shadow Defence Minister David Johnston, who bought the issue to the attention of the ADF in Senate Estimates two weeks ago, said in spite of Mr Fitzgibbon’s assurances that the debts would be wiped immediately, a handful of SAS soldiers were still fighting bureaucrats over their debts. On October 22nd the Minister guaranteed the House of Representatives that the problem would be fixed. Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon pledged that all special force soldiers would be looked after. “I can guarantee to the House that this problem will be fixed,” he said in question time. The West Australian, 23/10/2008 On October 23rd Senator Johnston hand delivered a letter to the Minister’s office seeking reassurance that the debts raised against a handful of soldiers would be cleared and any money taken from their wages would be repaid. “In spite of emphasising the urgency of this matter for the families of these soldiers, two weeks later I am still yet to receive a response,” Senator Johnston said. “I can only assume that because for the majority of SAS soldiers this bungle has been fixed, the Minister has dropped the ball and doesn’t care or even know about the remaining few.” Senator Johnston said the SAS soldiers had returned home from dangerous rotations in Afghanistan to find their combat allowances had changed without notice and retrospectively, meaning some soldiers owed the Commonwealth up to $36,000.

“You can only imagine the bitter disappointment of these soldiers and their families that this occurred in the first place, and the decent thing would be to clear up this matter as a priority,” Senator Johnston said. 6/11/2008

Media contact: Rebecca Horton 0427 440 120

Rebecca Horton Media Adviser I Senator the Hon David Johnston Shadow Minister for Defence I Senator for Western Australia

Office (Perth) (08) 9478 2088 I Mobile: 0427 449 120