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Veterans hurt by budget assault on aged



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Hon Stephen Martin MP Federal Member for Cunningham — Shadow Minister for Sport and Tourism Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs

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VETERANS HURT BY BUDGET ASSAULT ON AGED

The Howard Government's assault on the aged in the budget will have far reaching implications for Australia's veteran community, Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Stephen Martin, said today.

"It is particularly disappointing that not even twelve months have passed since the conclusion of the 'Australia Remembers' commemorative program and already the Howard Government has betrayed the veteran community," Mr Martin said.

"The budget contain some savage attacks on elderly Australians, which includes veterans and war widows. The most disturbing element is the decision to charge an entry fee to nursing homes. Many veterans will simply not be able to afford the estimated $26,000 needed to secure a place in a nursing home.

"Veterans and war widows will also face a 20 per cent increase in their contribution to pharmaceutical items, a new 20 per cent charge on Home and Community Care services, and hostel and nursing home residents will be required to pay an additional income tested charge of 25 cents in the dollar above the pension free area. Many veterans will also suffer as a result of the decision to abolish the Commonwealth Dental Health Program.

"Many of these veterans saved Australia in our hour of need in World War Two. Given that most of them are now in their eighties and require the assistance of the Government it is appalling that they have been treated so harshly. .

"Last year, the former Government recognised that the Veteran Community deserved special treatment in the area of aged care. A $50 million package of measures was released by former Minister Con Sciacca together with a long term policy on aged care entitled 'As Time Goes By: Continuing the Commitment'. It appears that the Howard Government is not committed to that policy.

"The Opposition do recognise that the Government has maintained most veterans' pensions and entitlements. We also support other measures in the veterans' budget such as the capital expenditure on the War Memorial, the commemorative initiatives and the younger veterans' employment scheme. This last measure was initiated

by the former Minister in response to calls from the ex-service community.

"The Coalition have broken their pre-election pledge to the veteran community that ALL their benefits would be maintained," Mr Martin said.

25 August 1996

Contact: Stephen Martin (042) 84 0680 - AH

Shane Wells 017 868 9 7 0 -AH

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