Labor has called on the Morrison Government to reveal where it will deliver a Veteran Wellbeing Centre announced for Tasmania.
In the May Federal Budget, the Government committed $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.
While there has been no official announcement, in Budget debate in Federal Parliament this week, the LNP Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson said that the Tasmanian Veteran Wellbeing Centre would be located in the electorate of Braddon.
Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Shayne Neumann called on the Government to confirm this.
“It looks like the Member for Herbert let the cat out of the bag and revealed that the Tasmanian Veteran Wellbeing Centre will be in the marginal seat of Braddon held by Liberal MP Gavin Pearce,” he said.
“The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester needs to come out and tell us if this is true or if not, where precisely this veteran hub will be established.
“We know the Minister visited Burnie in May with the local Member Mr Pearce and met with the North-West Tasmania Veterans Welfare Board to talk about the funding.
“This Government can’t afford to pork barrel and put this in a Coalition electorate for their own political purposes,” Mr Neumann said.
Mr Neumann noted that the Federal Government and Department of Veterans’ Affairs had undertaken a feasibility study with the Tasmanian Government into the potential for a veteran wellbeing service.
“We know there has been advocacy from a range of stakeholders seeking to establish a Veteran Wellbeing Centre in Tasmania.
“Minister Chester needs to release the feasibility study so Tasmanian veterans and their families can know what proposals it received and what it said about potential locations.”
Mr Neumann said while the funding for 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.