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Military pensions set for overhaul

Minister for Defence Materiel and Eden-Monaro MP Mike Kelly will make an announcement  on defence pensions.

Minister for Defence Materiel and Eden-Monaro MP Mike Kelly will make an announcement on defence pensions. Photo: Melissa Adams

The federal government will announce reforms on Tuesday morning to the retirement income of tens of thousands of retired Australian military personnel.

Defence and public service retirees are preparing to mobilise a grey army of voters for this year's federal election to pressure both major parties to end what they call pension discrimination.

The retirees' leaders say there are up to 320,000 voters being hurt by the government's continued refusal to link their pensions adequately to the cost of living and they believe they have the electoral numbers to swing more than 30 marginal seats when the nation goes to the polls this year.

Federal politicians in the Canberra area will be first to feel the heat. Meetings are scheduled for MPs and candidates to address hundreds of pensioners in the NSW seat of Eden-Monaro on Tuesday morning in Queanbeyan and north Canberra's Fraser electorate a week later.

Two groups, the Superannuated Commonwealth Officers' Association and the Defence Force Welfare Association, have been campaigning for more than 15 years to have their pensions index-linked to rises in real wages.

The retirees argue their standards of living have been eroded as six-monthly consumer price index-linked increases to their pensions were well outstripped by the rising cost of living.

Minister for Defence Materiel and Eden-Monaro MP Mike Kelly will make an announcement at Parliament House on Tuesday morning on reforms to defence pensions but no movement is expected on public-service retirement incomes.

DFWA national vice-president Les Bienkiewicz said the rate of indexing of pensions was hopelessly inadequate.

''The use of CPI to maintaining purchasing power is flawed,'' Mr Bienkiewicz said. ''ComSuper, which manages the schemes, still put on their literature that a dollar today will be worth a dollar tomorrow and that is patently a lie. Our last adjustment was at 0.06 per cent and I can tell you that cost of living went up by a lot more than 0.06 per cent.''

He said Liberal leader Tony Abbott had promised to make concessions to military pensioners in one of the military's pension funds, the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits scheme.

''The Coalition has acknowledged that we have a fair case and I have met with Tony Abbott, shook his hand and he has promised to fix the matter for those DFRDB pensioners over the age of 55, and we see that as a great step forward. But there's still a long way to go,'' Mr Bienkiewicz said on Monday.

''But as of 4pm this afternoon, the ALP, the current government, have not done anything.''

The former defence and public-service workers want an arrangement similar to the Centrelink age pension, which is pegged at 27.5 per cent of the male weekly average earnings. Superannuated Commonwealth Officers' Association federal president John Coleman says the change could cost as little as $35 million a year.

Mr Coleman said his association and the DFWA were preparing to flex the political muscle of the 200,000 Australians affected by the Commonwealth pension issue and their estimated 120,000 spouses.

''There are 31 marginal seats where the number of Commonwealth superannuants exceeds the margin by which those seats are held,'' he said.

The Eden-Monaro meeting will be at the Queanbeyan Kangaroo Club at 10.30am on Tuesday and will hear from Mr Kelly, Liberal candidate for Eden-Monaro Peter Hendy and the Greens' candidate for the seat, Catherine Moore.

31 comments

  • And what about all the other sectors who are on pensions or self funded retirees?? Are we not as important. The leaders are not looking after any of us, yet because we are a minority we do not have a voice. Other countries look after their retirees, self funded or government handouts with health and cost of living, they get good hospital and cheaper pharmacy medications. Yet we struggle to meet the outrageous safety net and pay full price on all medications and utilities because we saved enough to be self funded retirees. Please when making an argument try and include all Aussies struggling with living without government assistance.

    Commenter
    naughty nanny
    Date and time
    July 30, 2013, 6:59AM
    • Nonsense! Self-funded retirees receive very generous tax concessions which far outweigh government expenditure on the age pension. National Seniors Australia advocates very effectively for self-funded retirees. The age pension was substantially increased under the Gillard government and, unlike defence and public service pensions, the age pension is indexed to average weekly earnings which means it keeps pace with cost of living increases.

      Commenter
      Self-funded retiree
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      July 30, 2013, 10:11AM
    • Perhaps self-funded retirees should stop whining and form a lobby group - goodness knows there must be a couple of hundred thousand of them. Government and Opposition are only looking into the pensions of the groups who are threatening a black lash at the next general election. So mobilise or stop whinging...

      Commenter
      Bronte
      Date and time
      July 30, 2013, 10:55AM
  • Good for ther military then its good for everyone, we are all equal.

    Commenter
    ted
    Date and time
    July 30, 2013, 7:05AM
    • One sure fire avenue for improving your ignorance in this matter is a visit to the DFWA Website.

      Commenter
      Geronimo
      Location
      Yippee Yi Yo
      Date and time
      July 30, 2013, 8:58AM
    • It beggars belief that they would alienate all other APS pensioners by giving preferential treatment to Defence.
      It can only result in a net loss of votes overall.

      Commenter
      howler monkey
      Location
      southern hemisphere
      Date and time
      July 30, 2013, 10:25AM
  • This should have happened years ago and not be an election promise. This has occurred on labour's watch for the last 6 years with no action, but, here comes labour again to try and buy their way into parliament................

    Commenter
    The Anti Raider
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    July 30, 2013, 7:18AM
    • You can read can't you? Try the line above that states 'Two groups, the Superannuated Commonwealth Officers' Association and the Defence Force Welfare Association, have been campaigning for more than 15 years to have their pensions index-linked to rises in real wages'.

      If that's too much to absorb just focus on 15. Both parties have neglected this issue.

      But try not to let the facts get in the way of your anti-labor rant. They never seem to with the Right Whinge.

      Commenter
      wear the fox hat
      Date and time
      July 30, 2013, 11:05AM
  • As the population ages we simply won't be able to afford to pay people the same pensions as today.

    Instead of increasing them, the government should be looking to phase out pensions altogether after the current elderly who wholly rely on them die out.

    Commenter
    Freddie Frog
    Date and time
    July 30, 2013, 7:39AM
    • Freddie - instead of hammering the recipients of the age pension, I would abolish ALL social security benefits for anybody under 21, and severely limit them for people under 25.

      You seem to forget that age pension recipients have contributed to the tax base for at least 45 years (in most cases) while the 15 year old who can't hack school and left, or the 20 year old who has been on the dole for four years has contributed nothing.

      There's a quote that says a society can be measured on how it looks after its elderly. Switch the welfare emphasis from the young to the more vulnerable. Either party promotes that idea and they will get my vote.

      Commenter
      BBA
      Location
      Banks
      Date and time
      July 30, 2013, 8:47AM

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