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Prime Minister must override Minister Billson at RSL Congress.



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Media Release

ALAN GRIFFIN MP Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Shadow Minister for Defence Science and Personnel Federal Member for Bruce PRIME MINISTER MUST OVERRIDE MINISTER BILLSON AT RSL CONGRESS The Prime Minister, John Howard, and the Leader of the Opposition, Kevin Rudd, will tonight address the National RSL Congress. I would urge the Prime Minister to take this opportunity to override his Minister for Veterans Affairs, Bruce Billson, and support Kevin Rudd and Labor’s policy to increase benefits for Australia’s disabled war veterans and our war widows by offering a fairer system of indexation. Kevin Rudd and I announced in May this year that a Rudd Labor Government will provide a fairer system of indexation for all above general rate disability pensions. This announcement was at the time, and on numerous occasions since, strongly criticised by Minister Billson. In the last sitting period Kevin Rudd moved a motion in Parliament supporting Labor’s plan to increase benefits for disabled War Veterans. This again was strongly criticised by Mr Billson along with other Government members who spoke against the motion. Yesterday, building on Labor’s earlier commitment, Kevin Rudd and I announced that a Rudd Labor Government would offer fairer indexation for all general rate disability and war widows’ compensation payments currently administered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The Government failed to offer their support and did not welcome the policy. The Prime Minister previously failed to offer his support when he was asked in Question Time on 14 August whether he would support Labor’s policy. Tonight he has a second chance to clarify whether or not he will adopt Labor’s policy before the election. The National Party last week failed to respond to a public challenge to support Labor’s policy. The Treasurer, Peter Costello, has also made his feelings clear by steadfastly refusing to meet with Veterans’ Groups to discuss their concerns about indexation failing to keep pace with rising costs of living. If the Prime Minister doesn’t take this opportunity disabled Veterans will be left wondering if anyone in the Coalition will ever support them. Media Contact: Rod Hilton 0403 831 179