JOINT RELEASE WITH SENATOR KIMBERLEY KITCHING
DEPUTY MANAGER OF OPPOSITION BUSINESS IN THE SENATE
CHAIR OF THE SENATE FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE REFERENCES COMMITTEE
SENATOR FOR VICTORIA
Labor has welcomed the recommendation of a Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee Inquiry that more support be provided to veterans who are members of the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits (DFRDB) military superannuation scheme.
The Inquiry was established by Labor on 18 March 2021 to examine the accuracy of information provided to DFRDB members about the effects of commutation (exchanging part of their pension for a lump sum) on future retirement pay, and what remedial action could be taken.
The Committee included both Government and Labor Senators, as well as independent Senator Jacqui Lambie, and its report was adopted unanimously.
The Inquiry noted that a 2019 Commonwealth Ombudsman’s review found many DFRDB members were provided with incorrect information by Defence, which led them to believe that their commuted pensions would increase once they reached their life expectancy factor age, and that this was recognised as defective administration by Defence.
However, the Committee recognised that there have been no successful claims by DFRDB members under the Commonwealth’s Compensation for Detriment caused by Defective Administration (CDDA) scheme, which suggests more support may be needed to help members access the scheme to make a claim and appeal any adverse decisions.
Further, the Committee considered that, for DFRDB pensioners who were unsuccessful in their claims and any appeals, some form of reparation payment would be appropriate as a fall-back.
These payments would recognise ‘the Government’s moral obligation to address the confusion and distress suffered by DFRDB members as a result of defective administration’.
Also, a number of submissions to the Inquiry raised concerns about the complexity of the DFRDB scheme and the difficulty in navigating bureaucracy to access information on it.
Based on all the submissions and evidence, the Committee recommended that the Government consider more assistance for DFRDB members to access the CDDA scheme, or a separate reparation payments scheme for DFRDB pensioners to recognise that they experienced defective administration.
The Inquiry also recommended that the Government look at ways to improve members’ understanding of DFRDB and other military superannuation schemes through additional information for ADF personnel and a dedicated website.
Labor is calling on the Government to respond to the Committee’s unanimous recommendations, which would benefit Australia’s 51,000 DFRDB pensioners.
The report is available on the Committee website:
COMMENTS ATTRIBUTABLE TO SHAYNE NEUMANN MP, SHADOW MINISTER FOR VETERANS’ AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE PERSONNEL:
‘The Morrison Government’s 2019 review of the accuracy of advice provided to DFRDB scheme members was a slap in the face for these veterans.
‘This is why Labor listened and referred this issue to an independent Senate Inquiry, so that DFRDB pensioners could have their say.
‘We are pleased the Inquiry has recommended more assistance for DFRDB members to access the Compensation for Detriment caused by Defective Administration scheme, or reparation payments to recognise their confusion and distress over the years.
‘The Government needs to do the right thing and respond to the Inquiry’s recommendations, which would benefit Australia’s 51,000 DFRDB veterans.’