House debates

Tuesday, 13 February 2024

Questions without Notice

Defence Personnel

2:44 pm

Photo of Tracey RobertsTracey Roberts (Pearce, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Defence Personnel. What is the Albanese Labor government doing to deliver for defence personnel and veterans, including through Labor's cost-of-living tax cut plan?

Photo of Matt KeoghMatt Keogh (Burt, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Pearce for her question. She has over 3,000 defence personnel and veterans in her electorate. I know she has close relationships with the three RSL sub-branches in her electorate, including being the patron of the Yanchep Two Rocks RSL Sub-Branch. In her electorate—because I know she cares about cost-of-living pressures for her veterans, her defence personnel and all of those living in her electorate—73 per cent of taxpayers are going to be better off.

Just like all Australian taxpayers, the ADF members of our country deserve to keep more of what they earn. We care about that on this side of the House. Almost 87 per cent of Australian Defence Force members will be getting a higher tax cut under the Albanese better tax cut plan that we are putting forward from 1 July. A maritime warfare officer in their first year of warfare training at HMAS Watson will get a tax cut of over $2,000. An Air Force sergeant—an avionics technician maintaining Super Hornets at RAAF Base Amberley, in the member for Blair's electorate—will get a tax cut of $2,417. That's because we care about the cost-of-living pressures that are being borne by Australians, the cost-of-living pressures that are being borne by our Defence Force personnel. This builds on the improvements that we are making for housing support for serving personnel, access to health care and education support so that our defence people and families are better off.

We're also delivering for our serving personnel, veterans and families through DVA. The interim report of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide highlighted the 42,000-claim backlog at DVA, saying this was having a seriously detrimental impact on people's mental health. Well, as at 31 January this year, the total number of claims yet to be allocated to a delegate has fallen to less than 3,700. Thanks to the Albanese government's increasing resources for DVA, including fulfilling our commitment of 500 additional staff to process those claims, all new initial liability and incap claims will now be allocated within two weeks, and we'll be clearing the backlog for permanent impairment by the end of the month. This is beating the time limit that was set for us by the royal commission.

This is because we are committed to improving the lives of Defence Force personnel, veterans and families, and part of that is delivering a better tax cut plan that will benefit serving personnel and all taxpaying veterans, because we on this side of the House care about cost-of-living pressure, unlike those on the other side of the House, who are just jumping one way and the other, not being clear with the Australian people, trying to roll back their position and being unclear about how they're going to support Defence Force members, taxpaying veterans and all Australians who are suffering from cost-of-living pressure and will benefit from our better tax plan.