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OPEN LETTER: A fair go for veterans

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How about a "fair go" for veterans on superannuation and incapacity compensation payments, Prime Minister Morrison?

OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER, OPPOSITION LEADER, MINISTER AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR VETERANS' AFFAIRS 

RECENTLY, the Government released a media release entitled, 'Support for our Veterans and their Families'.

The final paragraphs of the statement, describing ‘extensive record support for veterans’, are decidedly underwhelming. For example, delivering support for 280,000 veterans is nothing more than what is required under existing legislation; and improved processes and claim procedures in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) are self evidently needed. Any Government that did not do these things would be derelict in its duty.

The statement that the Coalition is 'delivering [its] $1.4 billion in fairer indexation for military superannuants', if not deliberately misleading, certainly avoids telling the entire truth about what is happening with military superannuation. Assertions like these conceal the real situation and it is disingenuous to make it appear to be otherwise. It relates only to certain Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefit s Scheme (DFRDB) superannuants.

The $1.4 billion is a gross projection over 40 years – from 2014, for some DFRDB, only – and does not reflect the clawback in marginal taxes that military retirees have to pay, or, the reduction that would naturally occur in reductions in cross payments of means-tested welfare pensions. 

The media release made no mention of any intention to deliver:

  • a plan to restore a proper level of Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Special Rate (TPI/SR) economic loss compensation payments — it is reprehensible that this particular issue was not dealt with long ago;  
  • fair indexation for Military Superannuation and Benefits Scheme (MSBS) superannuants also (the now infamous Ronaldson "second step" was never implemented!);
  • fair indexation for under 55-year-old DFRDB superannuants, let alone anyone on MSBS;
  • proper indexation for preserved funds in Commonwealth hands; or
  • restitution for any substandard super indexation, dating at least back to 1990 for MSBS and 1990-2014 for DFRDB.

All of these long-standing issues have a direct, incontrovertible and deleterious effect on veterans’ cost of living. They all deserve a very high priority — well before any consideration of expenditure on memorials is placed on the agenda.   

And yet, neither the Coalition, nor Labor, make any undertaking in their election promises to settle these matters once and for all.   

Is this really the "fair go" that our veterans, like all Australians, deserve?

Does it really reflect how we'honour the service and sacrifice of our service personnel'?

Sincerely,

Bert Hoebee

Military Veteran

Bert Hoebee is a Canberra-based military veteran.

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