Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator Faulkner. Can the minister inform the Senate which veterans affairs pensioners will benefit from the economic security package announced yesterday by the Prime Minister? Can the minister further explain what level of benefits will be provided?
I thank Senator Bishop for his question and longstanding interest in this matter as the former shadow minister in this area. Hundreds of thousands of veterans benefited from yesterday’s package of measures designed to strengthen the national economy and of course support Australian households. It was clear that aged veteran pensioners and others in the veteran community who depend on income support did need financial relief. Therefore, more than 326,000 veterans affairs pensioners will receive the government’s bonus payment of $1,400 for singles and $2,100 for couples. There will be 200,000 service pension recipients—veterans, and of course their spouses and widows—who will receive either the $1,400 or the $2,100 payment on 18 December. I can indicate to the Senate that 105,000 eligible war widows will also benefit.
Those gold card holders who receive the seniors concession allowance or utilities allowance will also receive the payments. I can also confirm that around 4,000 people receiving a benefit from the Veterans’ Children Education Scheme will also receive a one-off payment of $1,000. In total, $407 million in extra payments will be delivered to veterans. Those funds serve the dual purpose of supporting veterans in the months leading up to Christmas and contributing to the strength of the Australian economy. I can also say that these payments are of course an immediate down payment on long-term, comprehensive pension reform.
The government values the contribution of veterans and their families. I know that all senators and members of this parliament do precisely the same. We know—and I certainly have some understanding of this as a former Minister for Veterans Affairs myself—that veterans and their families also need financial support and security. The government has taken this decisive action to address both those concerns. The $10.4 billion package of measures announced yesterday by the Prime Minister will, I am confident, ensure both a healthy economy and future stability for those veterans as well as for the wider community.