War veteran says pension increase 'too little, too late'
MILITARY pensions have been indexed to meet with the ever-growing cost of living, but Vietnam veteran Geoff Pickering, of Warwick, said the increase was "too little, too late".
Twice yearly, the pensions are reviewed and altered to address current costs, and for years ex-servicemen and women have been lobbying to have the increases brought in line with the aged pension.
"For years, Australian ex-service groups have sought fair treatment from the Minister for Veterans Affairs but to no avail," Mr Pickering said.
"The overdue service pension increase is $22 per fortnight.
"They were promised fair indexation to keep pace with inflation - this has not happened."
Mr Pickering said it would take more than a few dollars to get pensions at a level they should be.
"Defence pensioners are struggling to pay heating, car and food expenses, and holidays are unknown to most of them," he said.
While any increase was a positive for veterans, Mr Pickering said it just wasn't enough and would discourage those considering joining the defence force.
"The first priority of government is the defence of the nation but by treating ex-service folk so shabbily, the ALP is discouraging young people from volunteering for a career in our defence force," he said.
Mr Pickering thanked the Warwick Daily News for its help in bringing the defence force superannuation issues to the attention of the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Warren Snowdon, in articles published in January 2013.
Mr Snowdon said as of March 20, veterans, their partners and war widows across Australia would notice a $7-56 a fortnight increase to their pension, depending on their level of cover.
The payday on March 21 reflects the fortnight ending March 18 and will not include payments based on the new rates.
The payday on April 4 will include payments at the new rate.
Service pension - single
$772.60 (old) - $808.40 (new) per fortnight
Service pension - couples
$1164.80 (old) - $1218.80 (new) per fortnight
War widow pension
$783.60 (old) - $820.70 (new) per fortnight.
For the full list of pension rates, see dva.gov.au or phone 133 254 or 1800 555 254.