DEFENCE personnel could suffer from a Labor-backed proposal to link military pay to interest rates, the government says.
The Senate this morning endorsed independent Jacqui Lambie’s bill to “keep the bastards in the blue ties honest” by linking military pay increases to either the inflation rate or increases in MPs’ pay, whichever is greater.
However, with politicians’ pay frozen and inflation running at 1.7 per cent, the proposal would lift military pay by less than the 2 per cent increase offered by the commonwealth.
“Labor has been too clever by half and while attempting to score a political point has in fact kicked an own goal when it comes to ADF pay,” Assistant Defence Minister Stuart Robert said.
“Inflation for the year to December 2014 was 1.7 per cent and the Reserve Bank of Australia is forecasting inflation to June 2015 of 1.25 per cent.
“Senator Lambie’s Bill, which Labor supports, could actually cause a decline in pay and conditions for Defence personnel.”
Senator Lambie told the Senate that governments were not bound to the lower limit in her bill and could always offer more.
The bill, which was endorsed by Labor and the Greens, appears doomed in the House of Representatives, where the government commands a majority.
Senator Lambie said the Senate’s vote was “a very valuable lesson” to the Coalition and urged a conscience vote in the lower house.
“I think it’s achieved giving the Prime Minister a warning that when you want to steal money from our Defence Force personnel there’s more than one ways to skin a cat,” she said.
Senator Conroy defended the proposal, saying “nothing in this bill stops the government of the day providing a higher increase”.
“This puts in place a floor below which ADF pay can’t fall. Through this Bill, ADF personnel know that their pay will – at the very least – always keep up with the cost of living,” he said.