17 Oct 2017

In today’s (17 October 2017) House of Representatives Questions without Notice Independent Senator Andrew Wilkie (TAS) asked the Prime Minister this question.

Hansard Reference – page 24

Mr WILKIE (Denison) (14:18): 

“My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, the TPI Federation has written to you repeatedly, seeking a resolution to the dreadful situation where about 28,000 totally and permanently incapacitated veterans have seen their economic loss compensation fall to just 65 per cent of the minimum wage. Prime Minister, given the gravity of this issue, and the Parliamentary Budget Office’s validation of the independent analysis supporting the claim by the TPI Federation, will you now take personal responsibility and intervene to facilitate an immediate increase of $176 a week in the economic loss compensation payments to Australia’s TPI veterans?” 

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Prime Minister) (14:19):

“I thank the honourable member for his question.

My grandfather was a member of the TPI Federation, and I know well the work of the federation and respect the advocacy they provide, particularly that of TPI Federation President Pat McCabe.

All Australians are immensely proud of our men and women in uniform. We thank them for their service and we owe them a debt we can never repay.

Ensuring our veterans have adequate support and compensation is a vitally important role of government and one to which I am personally deeply committed.

In gratitude for their service, the government provides $12 billion annually in pensions and services to veterans and their families.

We best honour the diggers of 1917 by providing the best support in every respect to the servicemen and servicewomen, and the veterans and their
families, of 2017.

The honourable member has raised the subject of the TPI pension in relation to the minimum wage. I can advise the honourable member that the TPI pension is currently $1,373.80 per fortnight. I’m further advised that more than 80 per cent of TPI pension recipients also receive income support payments, known as the service pension, of up to $894.40 per fortnight. It’s important to recognise that the TPI pension is part of a package of benefits available to veterans, which can also include additional income support payments and medical coverage for all health conditions through the gold card.

In recognition of this important issue, I’ve asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs to work with his department and the TPI Federation to analyse the basis of the federation’s research and the data used in it.

I want to thank the honourable member for raising these important issues and the TPI Federation for its ongoing role in representing the interests of Australia’s veterans.

My government will always do the right thing by our veterans.

I recognise there are various components to these entitlements and this compensation, but I’m less interested in the definitional distinctions, which as a former serving officer the honourable member would no doubt have a keen insight into, than I am in making sure our veterans have the support they need.

I’m also interested in making sure they have financial support that is
appropriate and commensurate with their service, that if they need medical support and treatment it is provided, and that if they need psychological support for mental illness it is provided too.

I can assure the honourable member and all our veterans that my government is committed to them, just as they were committed to our nation in their days in uniform.”

ADSO is encouraged by the Prime Minister’s affirmation of his Government’s commitment to veterans and their families well-being and protection of their service entitlements. Thank you PM.