Federal Labor to Restore Value of Veterans' Disability Pensions - 6 May 2007

JOINT STATEMENT

KEVIN RUDD MP

FEDERAL LABOR LEADER

and

ALAN GRIFFIN MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR VETERANSí AFFAIRS

JUSTICE FOR OUR WAR VETERANS -- FEDERAL LABOR TO RESTORE VALUE OF VETERANSí
DISABILITY PENSIONS

A Rudd Labor Government will increase benefits for our nationís most severely disabled war veterans.

A Rudd Labor Government will restore the value of the Special Rate Disability Pension (TPI and TTI), Intermediate Rate and the Extreme Disablement Adjustment Pensions by indexing the whole of these pensions to movements in Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE) or the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is greater.

It is estimated that this announcement will affect more than 43,000 war veterans with disabilities.

On current projections, over the first four years after implementation, the recipients of these pensions will be $1,700 better off with their pensions building to $30 a fortnight more than they otherwise would have been.

This announcement concerns the most severely disabled of our war veterans. They include those who fought and served in conflicts including World War II, Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, the Gulf War, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.

We are already seeing veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan needing assistance. As of December 2006, eight soldiers who served in Afghanistan and two from Iraq will be affected by Federal Laborís announcement.

Our veterans have paid a very high price for their service to our country. This is about fixing an injustice.

We have listened to our nationís veterans and we are acting.

It has been budgeted to cost $61 million from September 20, 2008 Ė the day of indexation.

They deserve a Federal Labor Government that will finally fix this issue rather than a tired cynical old Howard Government that has consistently ignored them.

There has been no other issue that has been the subject of greater sustained and passionate concern in the veteransí policy area over the last ten years.

We have heard from many individuals and representatives of the Veteransí community about the importance of this issue.

In 1997 when the Howard Government indexed a range of other pensions, they left out the above general rate disability pensions. Since that time there has been an erosion of these pensionís values compared to the broader community.

For example in 1997 the Special Rate Disability Pension represented 46.3 per cent of MTAWE. On the most recent figures available it now only represents 42.9 per cent. If it had maintained its 1997 value it would now be $70 a fortnight higher.

The Howard Government provided only partial MTAWE indexation in 2004 after sustained protests from the Veteransí community. This was only a band-aid solution that failed to fully address the problem.

This announcement will mean that the three pensions will not continue to have their value eroded. Instead they will now be indexed against both the CPI and MTAWE to ensure that their value is maintained. This will take place in the first budget set by a new Rudd Labor Government.

Contact:
Rod Hilton (Griffin)
0403 831 179