Opinion: ADF A job to be valued

5 Nov 2014

This Opinion piece was written by Debbie McTaggart from Life Choices

While many may argue that public servants are paid too much anyway, underpaying defence force personnel to prove a point is harsh and unfair.

These are the men and women who, at times, are asked to put their lives on the line at the whim of the current government, whoever that may be.

They have no option to take industrial action when unhappy with conditions, or pay rates, and this has indeed led to them being the ‘whipping boys’ when it comes to pay negotiations.

A career in the defence force is seldom for life, with many serving an agreed period of time in return for training in a discipline which will help them in life outside the force. A cushy number some might say, but there is every possibility that these young men and women will be deployed overseas to fight a bloody war from which they may never return. And should they return and face a life outside the forces, the things they have seen and the conditions they fought in often affect their lives in ways which we simply can’t imagine. As we now more fully understand even if they’re not physically impaired, they are frequently mentally damaged with PTSD, etc.

Our defence forces do the jobs that others don’t want to – they’re our first and last line of defence in both military and civl emergencies, and yet we treat them like second-class citizens, to be there at our beck and call, but choose not to adequately remunerate them for their service.

We give pensioners and those who rely on government benefits an increase based on the rate of inflation, yet we can’t do the same for our forces. Offering anyone a pay increase, which is less than the rate of inflation is effectively, asking them to take a pay cut, something I don’t see any of our highly paid, less than effective politicians doing any time soon.

Do you think our defence forces are underpaid? Should everyone in the public service be guaranteed an increase of at least the rate of inflation? Or is it time for us to realise that the money just isn’t there to fund pay increases? Should Tony Abbott and his MPs lead by example by reducing their generous pay and perks?