IAN MCPHEDRANNATIONAL DEFENCE WRITER NEWS CORP AUSTRALIA NETWORK . THE DAILY TELEGRAPH NOVEMBER 26, 2014
DEFENCE dad Tony Dagger had no idea that his online protest against defence pay cuts would generate such anger — an international response and 24,000 signatures.
The government granted 57,000 military personnel a pay rise of 1.5 per cent a year (inflation is running at 2.3 per cent) for three years, along with the loss of loss of six Christmas leave days.
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Special Operations Task Group soldiers prior to a night mission in Afghanistan. Picture:
Special Operations Task Group soldiers prior to a night mission in Afghanistan. Picture: Corporal Chris Moore, ADF.
TONY DAGGER’S PETITION ON CHANGE.ORG
Responses have flooded in from around Australia and the world including Quan Ha Dong from Vietnam who posted this message; “During the war the Australian soldiers protected my family. I would not be alive today if they did not save us.”
“They send people into harm’s way but give them a pay rise that is below inflation,” Mr Dagger said.
Mr Dagger, a Sydney based father of three, will travel to Canberra on Monday to present a 700-page petition and 300 pages of comments about the pay cut to the Federal Government and the Opposition.
Petition organiser Tony Dagger is leading the protest against the federal government’s de
Petition organiser Tony Dagger is leading the protest against the federal government’s defence pay decision. Picture: Wesley Monts
He will also have a copy for renegade Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie who has refused to pass any Bills until the decision is reversed.
She was due to meet Prime Minister Tony Abbott this week to discuss the pay issue.
The move comes as Mr Abbott yesterday hinted that the decision was under “review” and might be overturned.
“We are keeping these matters under close review, but the fact is that we cannot pay people everything that we would like to,” Mr Abbott said.
This came after Parliamentary Secretary Steve Ciobo flatly ruled out any compromise.
“The gate is closed — the Horse is gone,” he said.
Army wife Sarah Lowe has written a heartfelt plea that summed up the feelings of defence families.
“Because our family time can sometimes be so interrupted, and rare, it is extremely precious to us,” Ms Lowe wrote
“It is so maddening now, that the government, has chosen to take some of that precious time off us now. My husband will lose six days of leave! Six days with his two daughters!”
Army wife Sarah Lowe and her daughters Heidi, 8, and Emma, 10, said pay deal “is not on”.
Army wife Sarah Lowe and her daughters Heidi, 8, and Emma, 10, said pay deal “is not on”. Picture: Supplied.
Ms Lowe said soldiers couldn’t speak out and defence families mostly took decisions on the chin, but not this time.
“Wives like myself have to step up — it is not on,” she said.
COMMENT BELOW: Should the PM intervene on ADF pay deal?
For Mr Dagger, who has no political allegiance but whose 19-year-old son is a defence member, the pay cut was morally wrong.
His petition on Change.org follows another online survey by the Defence Welfare Association that attracted 11,000 followers.
Defence Minister David Johnston held firm when he told parliament that the troops would not be worse off.
“Does anybody seriously believe that we would want to reduce the terms and conditions of soldiers?” he said.
Centenary Parade of units of the 9th Brigade, Australian Army at the Torrens Parade Groun
Centenary Parade of units of the 9th Brigade, Australian Army at the Torrens Parade Ground in Adelaide. Picture: Calum Robertson
Clearly tens of thousands of people do and Mr Dagger’s petition was just three days old when it hit 3000 signatures. After a week it had grown to 17,000 and by early this week it stood at 23,500.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has called on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to immediately reverse the decision.
“I firmly believe that if he doesn’t reverse this pay cut, Tony Abbott will live to regret it,” Mr Shorten told News Corp Australia.
“Tony Abbott can’t talk about Team Australia but refuse to pay the team that protects Australia properly.”
A Royal Australian Air Force pilot with a F/A18 Super Hornet in the Middle East. Picture:
A Royal Australian Air Force pilot with a F/A18 Super Hornet in the Middle East. Picture: Gary Ramage
Mr Dagger said a three per cent pay rise would have cost the government an extra $50 million or two-tenths of one per cent of the $29 billion annual defence budget.
“The government says it can’t find $50 million for our troops when it spent $400 million of taxpayer funds to host the G20 conference,” he said.
Originally published as Over 24000 angry over ADF pay deal