Federal Member for Blair and Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Shayne Neumann has called on the Morrison Government to deliver a new veterans’ hub in Ipswich in his electorate.
In the May Federal Budget, the Government announced $10.7 million to establish Veteran Wellbeing Centres in South East Queensland and Tasmania to provide veterans with access to health and mental health services, community organisations, advocacy and wellbeing support.
In debate on the Budget bills in Federal Parliament this week, Mr Neumann called on the Government to reveal where it will establish the veteran hub in South East Queensland.
“At the 2016 election, the then Liberal candidate for Blair Teresa Harding announced an unfunded commitment for a veteran hub in Ipswich, but the Government never honoured this and it was not included in their 2019 election policy,” he said.
“The Government can’t keep reneging on this promise and it should use this latest funding in the Budget to roll out a much-needed veteran hub in Ipswich in my electorate.
“My electorate has the largest veteran population in South East Queensland, and is home to RAAF Base Amberley, the biggest air force base in Australia.
“It makes sense to have a veteran hub here and the Government should honour its original 2016 election promise.
“Given the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester issued a joint media release with the Minister for Defence Peter Dutton about the South East Queensland Veteran Wellbeing Centre, I’m very worried they will put it in Mr Dutton’s electorate of Dickson for political reasons.
“The Liberal Member for Ryan Julian Simmonds, whose electorate takes in the Enoggera army base, has also said he would like a centre in his electorate.
“So the Minister needs to work through all of this and tell South East Queensland veterans where this wellbeing centre will be located.
“This Government can’t afford to pork barrel and put this service in a Coalition or marginal electorate.”
Mr Neumann said while the funding for two new Veteran Wellbeing Centres in the Budget was welcome, it was disappointing there was no support to fast-track the delivery of a number of centres promised at the 2019 election that are now well behind schedule.
“When the Liberals and Nationals pledged six Veteran Wellbeing Centres at the 2019 election, the intention was that all of these would be up and running in 2020.
“It’s now 2021 and only half of these centres have been completed – in Perth, Adelaide and Townville.
“The remaining three centres – in Nowra, Wodonga and Darwin – are still yet to find permanent sites and only expected to open in 2022, a full two years behind schedule.
“This blowout is looking more and more like another broken election promise.
“It just goes to show this is a government that loves making announcements, but never delivers,” Mr Neumann said.