Thursday, 20 March 2014
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Senator Ronaldson. Can the minister advise the Senate what commitments the government has made to military superannuants and how it is honouring them, particularly in my home state of Queensland?
Today, a wrong has been righted. Today, in the House of Representatives, legislation was introduced to address the DFRDB indexation issue. It was an unfair situation that had been there for decades for people who have served this nation. We took to the last election a commitment to address this unfair indexation issue. Today, that promise was delivered. Today, we again recognise the uniqueness of military service. Today, we acknowledge those 57,000 families throughout this nation who have not had the same indexation methods as service and age pensioners. Today, we start assisting those in Senator Boswell's home state.
There are 15,000 people in Queensland who will be helped by this decision today through the introduction of this legislation. In the seat of Longman alone, there are 894 families who will benefit from this change. I will just also say this to Senator Boswell: there are 45,000 military superannuants who will benefit immediately from this decision. That is those who are aged over 55. That payment will commence on 1 July this year. This is a commitment made by a government that keeps its promises. This is a commitment that those opposite have tried on two occasions to stop. They have tried to stop people who have served this country from getting fair indexation. (Time expired)
I thank Senator Boswell for that supplementary question. Those behind me and those opposite will remember the disgraceful day in this place when the Australian Greens and the Australian Labor Party voted down the Fair Indexation of Military Superannuation Entitlements Bill.
If you think that is a yawn, go out and tell the 57,000 families that you think it is a yawn. I am happy to repeat that right across this nation.
The realities are, as Senator Boswell knows, that the Australian Labor Party, having pilloried anyone who suggested there should be a change, in the 10 days before the last election to save the seat of Mike Kelly in Eden Monaro, came up with a half-baked, half-cocked plan to change indexation. It did not address the proper indexation—it was for those over 65—and those on the opposite side of the chamber stand utterly condemned for what they have done to date.
Senator Boswell, we are doing this because it is the right thing to do. We are doing this because we said we would do it. I will throw a challenge out today to the Australian Labor Party and the Greens. I just wonder whether they are prepared to follow the lead of Senator Xenophon, who wrote to me this morning and said that he will be supporting this legislation.
Are Senator Wright and Senator Farrell going to stand up here today and say they are supporting this legislation and put it through immediately as non-controversial legislation, or are they going to keep on playing games with the lives of 57,000 families in this country? You have a big decision to make. You can do it today—resolve this—and send the message out, Senator Farrell, that you are serious about these families, or you can continue to prevaricate and oppose measures that are fair and decent for honest people who have served this nation.