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Democrats move for Gold Card for all WWII veterans.

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Senator Andrew Bartlett Australian Democrats Veterans’ Affairs Spokesperson

21 March 2002 MEDIA RELEASE 02/132

Democrats move for Gold Card for all

WWII Veterans

The Australian Democrats today moved an amendment to Veterans legislation calling on the Government to give the Gold Card to all service personnel who served during World War Two.

The Government has undertaken to give the Gold Card only to those veterans who have qualifying service, and has indicated they will not support the Democrats’ amendment.

“In 1942 Australians faced the threat of invasion. On the 50th anniversary of the war being brought to our shores, it would be appropriate to recognise the war efforts of all who served during World War Two,” said Senator Andrew Bartlett, the Democrats spokesperson on Veterans’ Affairs.

“Unfortunately, when the Government announced last year that they would extend eligibility to the Gold Card, it was interpreted by many World War Two veterans to mean that those without qualifying service would be included and they were disappointed to find out that is not the case.

“The Democrats’ amendment responds to the concerns of those veterans who believed they were promised a Gold Card by the Government,” Senator Bartlett said.

A similar amendment was supported by the independent MPs in the lower house.

“What constitutes qualifying service throws up a number of anomalies where service personnel did face warlike dangers but that is not recognised by the Government. What constitutes qualifying service can be a quite arbitrary decision in some cases,” said Senator Bartlett.

“The provision of the Gold Card to some members of the veterans community and not others certainly causes divisions.

“Even within a battalion, some veterans have the Gold Card and some do not, depending on how they travelled to a posting. If you served in Darwin during one period of time you are recognised as having qualifying service, but if it was a few days later, you are not. There are World War Two veterans who served in Australia at the closest point to Timor, that are not recognised as having qualified service, and therefore will not receive a Gold Card,” Senator Bartlett said.

“They were healthy when they enlisted and they went where they were sent. If they need medical care now, the Democrats believe the Government has an obligation to provide it.”

On another veterans bill passed today, the Democrats supported the ALP’s amendment to have the veterans disability pension exempted from the social security income test.

“We have moved for this previously so we welcome the ALP pursuing it today,” Senator Bartlett said.

For further comment: Senator Andrew Bartlett 02 6277 3406 or 0418 743 789