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Minister Billson disagrees with backbencher Billson.

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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 MINISTER BILLSON DISAGREES WITH BACKBENCHER BILLSON Bruce Billson, the Minister for Veterans Affairs, has been caught out reversing his earlier support for our most severely disabled war veterans. While he has steadfastly failed to support Labor’s policy of fairer indexation of our most severely disabled war veterans’ pensions, - it would appear his support would have been forthcoming when he was a backbencher. In an article published in the Age on 18 February 2004 Bruce Billson was named as one of the backbenchers involved in the revolt again the Government’s inadequate response to the Clarke Review. In regards to the indexation method to be applied to the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) Pension the article said that Victorian Liberal Bruce Billson argued in the party room that what was considered appropriate for other forms of pension should also apply to veterans. Yet now he is Minister he has completely backflipped on his earlier views. On 6 May this year, Kevin Rudd and I announced that a Rudd Labor Government would offer a fairer method of indexation for our most severely disabled war veterans resulting in an increase in their benefits. Minister Billson immediately refused to agree with Labor’s policy. Not only has he refused to agree with Labor’s policy he has been highly critical of it. Some of the numerous examples of his criticism since Labor’s announcement are: • On 7 May he was quoted in a Herald Sun article calling Labor’s policy a ‘cobbled together media stunt’ that ‘made no sense’ and was ‘illogical’, ‘inconsistent and unprincipled’. • On 10 May in a press release he said it was ‘flawed policy’, a ‘policy stunt’ and did not ‘deliver any meaningful benefit until 2012’ • On 23 May, he said in parliament in reference to Labor’s policy that it ‘was discriminatory, it is unprincipled and it vandalises and undermines some of the key principles and key foundations that allow governments - successive governments - to implement a pro-veteran beneficial system’ • On 14 June, he said in parliament that Labor’s policy was ‘unprincipled, unsustainable and unsubstantiated’.

• On 13 August in a press release he said that ‘Labor has botched its indexation policy’ • On 14 August he was quoted in the Herald Sun as calling Labor’s policy a ‘false promise of a juicy boost’

Minister Billson also issued a recent press release that was highly critical of a motion by Labor Leader Kevin Rudd that called on the Government to support fairer indexation for our most severely disabled war veterans.

The ex-service community would be entitled to ask if Backbencher Billson would have been this critical of Labor’s policy?

Unfortunately for our most severely disabled war veterans it is Minister Billson in his current form that is in charge. Unless the Government is willing to undertake a spectacular backflip due to the pressure applied by Labor, the only hope for our most severely disabled war veterans will be the election of a Rudd Labor Government.

Media Contact: Rod Hilton 0403 831 179