National

Diggers vent fury at 'outrageous' pay offer


Australian Defence Force personnel say the government's new pay offer is "an outrage", "a disgrace" and "a joke".

Thousands of sailors, soldiers and Air Force personnel have reacted with fury to being asked to give up some of their Christmas and recreational leave in order to get the pay rise of just 1.5 per cent a year over the next three years.

By Monday afternoon 7123 soldiers, sailors, Air Force personnel, reservists or their families had contacted the peak defence advocacy group with 90 per cent of them saying they "strongly disapproved" of the government's offer.

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Many of the service people spoke of leaving the military as their pay and conditions deteriorated under the offer which will be considered by Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal in Canberra on Wednesday.

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The military's top brass told their troops that the deal, which is about half the rate of cost-of-living rises, was the best that could be expected in the current climate of public sector spending cuts.

But respondents to the Welfare Association's survey said they were "disgusted" and "outraged" at being asked to take an effective pay cut when they felt they had already made great sacrifices to serve their country.

Defence Welfare Association national president David Jamison said he and his colleagues had not anticipated the angry reaction to the offer.

"It's strengthened our position to one of total opposition to what is being offered," Mr Jamison said.

"We were expecting that some people wouldn't be happy with it, but now we simply have to say that it's just not acceptable."

Mr Jamison said he and his colleagues would now strongly oppose the case, challenging the three-member remuneration tribunal to prove their independence from government.

"It's going to be interesting to see," he said.

"If they are truly independent then they have to take note of what we're saying, even though it's an agreed position between the Commonwealth and the ADF."

The Defence Welfare Association says the survey of its membership now dwarfs the official consultation carried out by the ADF before it presented the deal to 57,000 men and women in uniform.

"The consultation comprised 62 road shows, they called them, and 3000 attendees, but we're gonna have well over 8000 responses by the close of business tomorrow (Tuesday) and 90 per cent of them are saying they're dissatisfied," Mr Jamison said.

The Chief of the Defence Force Mark Binskin anticipated discontent in the ranks over the offer but said on Friday morning it was "as good an outcome as I can negotiate in the current climate".

WHAT THEY SAID:

"Defence force families are being victimised."

"The idea that we need to give up entitlements in order to pay for a mediocre pay increase that doesn't even come close to inflation rates is ridiculous.

"It is downright insulting!"

"It's not an offer, it's an abomination."

"It's no longer a service, it's a business at all cost, do more with less, burn people and their families, it's a joke and it's time to move on."

"I will be getting nothing, my family will be getting nothing. Thank you senior management for not bothering to represent the soldiers you are supposed to represent."

"I'm more and more embarrassed to say I am in defence each day. The more they take away from us the faster a lot of members will be leaving."

"What the defence force gives up for the sake of our country we deserve as a minimum the 3 per cent. Even more if we have to sacrifice leave."

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