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Pinochet sufferers deserve compassion.

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Nicola Roxon MP Member for Gellibrand

For more information or a copy of the motion and speech call: Nicola Roxon or Matt Nurse on (02) 6277 2039 or 0417 386 535


Pinochet Sufferers Deserve Compassion

Ms Roxon today moved a motion in Federal Parliament calling on the Government to exempt victims of the former Pinochet regime from having their “mercy payments” treated as income for Australian pensions.

The motion moved by Ms Roxon aims to remove this injustice and stated in part:

“That this House calls on the Government to give those members of the Australian-Chilean community fair treatment by introducing legislation to exempt the Chilean ‘pensions of mercy’ from the income test for Australian pensions...”.

The current Chilean Government has granted pensions of mercy to these victims, purely as compensation for the various atrocities (torture, jail, dismissal, exile, family members disappearing etc) that the former Pinochet regime inflicted upon certain members of its population.

“It’s unacceptable to me that the current Government considers these mercy payments as regular income for the purposes of determining the eligibility and level of Australian pensions. Clearly these payments are not normal income - these are specific payments to compensate these people for the awful and traumatic treatment that they have had to suffer,” said Ms Roxon.

“It’s just wrong that they have their pensions reduced because of it”.

Ms Roxon, who has a large number of former Chilean nationals living in her electorate of Gellibrand, has written to Minister Vanstone to ask that they be allowed to receive their mercy payments on top of any Centrelink payments they may be entitled to.

“The Government has already granted special exemptions to the Holocaust victims who receive similar payments in compensation for the suffering that they have endured”.

“I can see no logical reason why victims of the Pinochet regime should be treated less favourably than Holocaust victims”.

“The Government has been making positive noises for over 2 years - it’s now time to act”.

17 June 2002