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Coalition extends veterans recognition, care and compensation.

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3-28/33 Saturday 13 October 2001


A third term Coalition Government would extend the Gold Card to Australian veterans with qualifying service aged over 70, index war widows income support supplement payments, and conduct an independent review into the perceived anomalies over entitlement to benefits under the Veterans’ Entitlement Act (VEA), the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Bruce Scott, announced today.

Speaking at the launch of Supporting Those Who Served, the Coalition’s Veterans’ Affairs policy, Mr Scott said a Howard-Anderson Coalition Government was committed to extending recognition, care and compensation to a very special group of Australians, Australia’s veteran and war widow community.

“The Coalition will extend the Gold Card to provide comprehensive free health care to all Australian veterans who are 70 years of age or over with qualifying service,” Mr Scott said.

“This is an important commitment to those veterans who served in conflicts after World War II (WWII) and recognises their exposure to unique hardships and deprivations of combat.”

The Gold Card initiative will cost $73.5m over four years.

New and more generous indexation arrangements will allow war widows payments to keep pace with improvements in community standards of living.

“A Coalition Government will index the war widows income support supplement (ISS), which has been frozen since 1986, to increases in the male total average weekly earnings (MTAWE) or the consumer price index (CPI), which ever is greater.

“Labor’s unfair decision to freeze ISS at $124.90 per fortnight has affected some 85,000 war widows. This measure, together with the Coalition’s decision in the last budget to restore the pension rights of war widows who had their pensions cancelled when they chose to remarry, will remedy Labor’s unfair treatment of war widows.

The indexation of ISS will cost $70.3m over four years.

An independent review into the eligibility for veterans entitlements would address the concerns of some veterans groups who are currently denied full access to veterans benefits.

“The Coalition Government is concerned that some groups of ex-Servicemen and women may have a claim to entitlements under the VEA but are currently denied access to these generous benefits (including service pension and the Gold Card) because of perceived anomalies in the determination of qualifying service.

“These groups could include some WWII veterans who did not serve overseas, veterans of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force of Japan, participants of British atomic testing in Australia, and servicemen engaged in counter terrorist and special recovery training.



“The Coalition Government will conduct a high profile and independent review into the eligibility for veterans entitlements. This review will be conducted in close consultation with the ex-service community.

Mr Scott said Supporting Those Who Served would ensure Australia’s Repatriation system remains the most generous in the world.

Impact on the Forward Estimates 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 Total

Gold Card to Veterans aged over 70 with Qualifying Service 15.7 17.8 20.0 20.0 73.5

Unfreezing the income support supplement 2.5 12.5 25.3 30.0 70.3

Total 18.2 30.3 45.3 50.0 143.8

Media Contact: Mark Croxford 02 6277 7820 or 0408 645 787