Labor has established new Senate inquiries into the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) veteran pension and the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits (DFRDB) military superannuation scheme.
Labor successfully moved motions to refer these matters to the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee for inquiries with the support of the Greens and all crossbench Senators last week in the Senate.
The Morrison Government’s flawed 2019 reviews of the TPI payment and the accuracy of advice provided to DFRDB scheme members were a slap in the face for ex-service men and women.
Both of these reviews were announced on the eve of the last election and were cynical marketing exercises from the Prime Minister designed to placate veterans.
After raising expectations he would increase the TPI payment and sitting on the review for more than a year, Scott Morrison announced in last year’s Budget that he would not raise the pension rate and would only provide rent assistance to around 10 per cent of disabled veterans, leaving most disgusted they will miss out.
To add insult to injury, in Senate Estimates hearings in October last year, it was revealed it would be another two years before benefits began flowing while they identified eligible TPI pensioners and made changes to legislation and IT systems.
In addition, a Commonwealth Ombudsman investigation of the DFRDB scheme found Defence provided misleading advice to ADF members about their options to commute or exchange part of their pension for a lump sum, and that this constituted defective administration.
However, in its response the Government failed to provide any compensation to former defence personnel or make any changes to the scheme.
Members of the ex-service community have continued to raise longstanding concerns in relation the adequacy of the TPI pension and the historic commutation arrangements for the DFRDB scheme. They believe the Morrison Government has ignored them.
Labor has listened to these concerns and will now conduct independent Senate inquiries to allow for an open and transparent examination of these issues and to establish the facts.
Labor will work with the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee to establish these inquiries, including Terms of Reference, to ensure it can provide thorough and comprehensive reports.
It is anticipated the inquiries will receive submissions and hold public hearings before reporting back by 24 June 2021.
Labor is on the side of Australia’s veterans and we want to allow all voices to be heard.