Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Matters of Public Importance
Military Superannuation Pensions
I rise to make a contribution in this matter of public importance debate on military superannuation pensions. In the very short time that I have been a senator for South Australia I have had the experience of mixing it with service personnel in a number of different areas, including in a very short stint—in comparison to our serving personnel—in Afghanistan. I have also had representations made directly to my office from the service associations. I have to say there has not been a large number of representations—three, in fact—and in all the exposure I gained in Afghanistan, where I sought out every opportunity to talk to serving men and women, not one raised the matter of the service pensions.
I would point out that I have an interest in this matter. I have a niece who is a serving member of the Australian defence forces and has served in Afghanistan; I have a prospective son-in-law who is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan; I have a brother who is a returned soldier, a veteran of the Vietnam conflict—the list goes on and on, if you like. So I have listened very carefully to the debate here today, I have listened very carefully to the constituents who have approached me and I have sought out the views of many members of the armed forces. And it appears to me that this debate today is an extremely politicised one that is not succinctly and clearly addressing what the facts actually are. The contribution from former Senator Minchin was extremely illuminating when he said:
There is no inherent logic to the proposition that a public sector employment-related superannuation payment should be indexed in exactly the same fashion as a means-tested welfare benefit, in this case the age pension.
He also said:
This … claim was properly rejected by the Howard government, of which I was a member …
So someone had the courage of their convictions, both in political life and in the aftermath, to succinctly and clearly put their position on the public record.
It is very clear to me in relation to members of our defence forces, no matter what conflict they have served in. My next-door neighbour is a veteran of the 2/48 Battalion and at 92 years old, living independently, is a shining example of the contribution our servicemen have made to the community. He has never raised the indexation of benefits with me.