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Parliament stops Opposition denying benefits to veterans

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Wednesday 22 August 2012


The Parliament has rejected the vain attempts by the Coalition to sideline legislation delivering benefits to the veteran community.

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, said the Government Bill before Parliament will ensure payments to veterans with war-caused disabilities, under the Veterans’ Pharmaceutical Reimbursement Scheme, are tax exempt.

“The Bill also ensures reimbursements for treatment under the Australian Participants in British Nuclear Tests (Treatment) Act are tax free; it provides benefits to VEA and MRCA veterans living on Norfolk Island and; it would improve arrangements for travel claims for eligible veterans.

Other changes ensure payments to veterans or their families for funeral expenses don’t interfere with social security payments, and make available benefits under the Defence Service Homes Act for subsidised home loans and insurance for veterans of Operation DAMASK VI in 1993.

Mr Snowdon said the Opposition’s actions were for political purposes, noting that their proposal to change military superannuation indexation does not apply to anyone who joined the Australian Defence Force after 1991, including many veterans of Iraq, East Timor and the current war in Afghanistan. The Coalition had over 11 years in Government to act on their proposal and chose to do nothing.

Former Minister for Finance, Nick Minchin, wrote in The Australian on 2 May 2012:

“However, all claims made upon the public purse, even those by retired Defence personnel, should be considered rigorously and on their merits. This particular claim was properly rejected by the Howard Government, of which I was a member, as well as by the Labor Government.

The payments are maintained in real terms, which is what they signed up for. Changing the indexation for Defence personnel would create immediate demands for the same change to be made for all other commonwealth employees, at a potentially enormous cost to taxpayers.”

“The only effect of the Opposition’s amendment in the House of Representatives would have been to deny all these benefits for our veterans,” he said.

“The Opposition has shown it is more interested in stunts to suit its political ends rather than in seeing benefits delivered to tens of thousands of veterans, the House was right to throw out the Coalition amendment,” Mr Snowdon said.

Media inquiries: Minister Snowdon: Marcus Butler 02 6277 7820