VETERANS LEFT OUT AND LEFT BEHIND BY FEDERAL BUDGET

The Federal Budget does not do enough to support our ex-service men and women, and leaves too many veterans behind. 
 
The Morrison Government has a track record of delays and no delivery in Veterans’ Affairs, and this Budget shows they have no plan for veterans and their families.
 
Despite a grab-bag of announcements, it’s a case of business as usual with many measures involving modest extensions to existing health and employment programs.
 
The Budget was supposed to include responses to two major reports, but the approach taken is piecemeal and woefully inadequate.
 
The Government has adopted only one of 69 recommendations from the Productivity Commission’s (PC) review of the veteran support system – a Joint Transition Authority in Defence – and have said they will table an “interim response” in Parliament in the coming days.
 
Given the PC report was released in July last year, veterans should expect to see a much more comprehensive response than this.
 
Labor welcomes that the PC’s recommendations relating to the Gold Card will not be accepted, but the Government should have ruled these out much sooner to provide certainty for veterans and their families.
 
The Government also responded to a review of the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) payment by increasing rent assistance for some TPI pensioners in the Budget.
 
TPI veterans have said they are disgusted that most of them will miss out on this assistance and they are calling on Scott Morrison to release the review report after sitting on it for more than a year.
 
Labor acknowledges additional funding for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to help process claims by veterans and their dependents, however this is a clear admission of failure given wait times have blown out in recent years.
 
Labor will wait to see the detail on the increase in fees paid to mental health, social work and community nursing providers, which should help reduce long wait times, but is concerned this is just a one-off temporary boost. 
 
On top of this, ahead of the Budget the Government indicated they would increase DVA fees for allied health workers, including physiotherapists and occupational therapists, but this measure does not apply to them so will do nothing to improve access to these services.
 
Disappointingly, despite loud calls from Labor and the ex-service community, there is no funding in the Budget to expand veteran wellbeing centres or to address the terrible plight of homeless veterans.
 
After seven years of inaction and tokenism, it’s clear the Morrison Government still has no plan, and many veterans will feel left out and left behind by this Budget.


WE'LL PUT PEOPLE FIRST