Bob and Wendy (not their real names) had their future carefully mapped out. After a tough 28 years of Army life involving forced separations from his family during overseas deployments and frequent postings around Australia, Bob had just one year to go until his compulsory retirement age. They sought financial advice and knew that Bobs military superannuation would allow them to pay off the house mortgage and his residual retirement pay would be enough to live in modest comfort. He hoped to gain some part time work to supplement his superannuation, but at age 55, he was realistic about his prospects.
Then, all their plans fell apart with an early morning knock on the door. Bob had collapsed and died from a massive heart attack whilst on his morning jog before work.
Bob had reassured Wendy that if anything ever happened to him, she would be looked after financially because compulsory super contributions had been deducted from his salary over the past 28 years, and the scheme had a death benefit that provided a widows pension to guarantee her needs would be met.
An important part of that guarantee was that the Government would ensure regular cost of living adjustments were made to Wendys pension to protect her real purchasing power over future years.
But what Bob and Wendy didnt know is that successive Governments had quietly fiddled with the cost of living adjustments over the past 20 years so that retirement pay no longer maintained real purchasing power.
In Wendys case, she is now losing $348 per fortnight compared with what she should be receiving had her widows pension been adjusted the way Parliament intended back in 1976 when automatic indexation was first legislated.
Thats $348 per fortnight being ripped from Wendys pocket by the Government because the Parliament now refuses to honour its obligations to retired and invalid servicemen and women and their widows. Wendys income level has now fallen into the social welfare safety net and she has been forced to apply for financial support from Centrelink. But heres the rub. Wendy is in her mid 50s and does not qualify for age pension relief.
Wendys financial loss is typical of the disgraceful situation faced by many retired, invalid and widowed members of the ADF family. The value of their pensions will continue to slide further into the social welfare trap unless this insidious and unfair policy is overturned.
But in Parliament, Minister Snowdon chose to recite the example of super benefits for a mythical Colonel retiring tomorrow as being representative of the retired military family. And on 15 May 2013, the same Minister said in Parliament, he was “surprised at the dishonest way in which this debate has been repeated around the country by some elements of the returned services community”.
I will leave it to you to judge the integrity of the two sides to this debate.
It is the Wendys in the ADF family that ADSO is fighting this battle for. It’s why we bother.
But we cannot do it without your help. With less than 100 days to run until the election, the Fair Go Campaign needs your support now more than ever. Please help out in every way that you can.