Disabled Veterans dig in on Pensions

19 Apr 2014

In this article reported by Lloyd Graham on page 5 from the Post Newspapers Perth WA last year when disabled Vietnam Veterans Peter Clayton, Jock O’Neill and Allen Petersen protested outside the Coalitions’ Veterans Forum.

The article is repeated here to show that the matter remains alive and will continue as an ADSO priority to restore the parity that was “lost” with the Labor Government’s decision in September 2009. It seems that many in the Parliament and the community fail to understand that veterans’ disability pensions are completely different from military superannuation payments (pensions)

“Vietnam veterans picked a fight on home ground on Tuesday morning. A handful of Diggers protested outside the Shenton Park Community Centre that pensions for disabled veterans had not been indexed in line with other pensions. Inside the community centre, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Curtin MP Julie Bishop and the federal opposition veteran affairs spokesman, Senator Michael Ronaldson, were attending the Coalition Veterans’ Forum. Ms Bishop and Senator Ronaldson had signed the Coalition’s pledge to index defence force superannuation schemes. “This commitment will ensure these pensions are indexed in the same way as aged and service pensions,” Ms Bishop said. “This will deliver a fair outcome to 57,000 families across Australia, including many hundreds in our local community.”

But Vietnam veteran Jock O’Neill and other protesting ex-servicemen said the commitment did not include disability pensions, which had been left behind other army and civilian pensions in 2009 and had not been linked since. “The Coalition seems to have forgotten us, the disabled Anzacs, and our families when it comes to reinstating the value of our pensions,” Mr O’Neill said.”The current ALP government legislated the Veterans’ Disability Pension be denied the maintaining purchasing power of the pensions’ adjustment of September 2009. “Prior to this, our pension increased with increases in the age pension. “The Veterans’ Disability Pension was the only government-funded pension to be denied what the government deemed a necessary structural adjustment for pensions to remain relevant to current wage levels.

“Disabled veterans are not asking for any more than the next pensioner, just the same as the age pension.” Mr O’Neill said it would cost the government $106 million a year to give 29,000 disabled veterans the difference of $130 a fortnight. “Not much in the scheme of government finances to recognise disabled Anzacs as equals in the land they fought to protect,” he said.

The protesters also said they wanted the rules changed so benefits and payments to their families would not be slashed if their wives went to work. They warned Australian veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would also face relative poverty in the future if these problems were not fixed.”