RSL attacks the Abbott government over Diggers' pay and veterans' pension

The Returned and Services League has accused the Abbott government of breaking more election promises over Australian Defence Force pay and pensions for veterans and war widows.

The RSL's national board has passed motions "deploring" the below-inflation wage deal forced on the nation's 57,000 sailors, soldiers and air force personnel, and changes to the indexation of some military pensions.

The government unleashed a political storm in October when it made its wage offer to the ADF -  just 1.5 per cent for each of the next three years in exchange for a reduction in leave entitlements and other allowances.

Although the government later backed down, in the face of an outcry from Defence families around the nation, and reversed reductions to Defence Force allowances and leave entitlements, the pay deal was approved by the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal.

Now the RSL says the tribunal, once respected for its independence, is in danger of becoming a "rubber stamp" for decisions on military pay and conditions that had already been made by other government bodies.


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The league's national president, Rear Admiral Ken Doolan, said the low offer and the changes to veterans' entitlements suggested the government had failed to live up to pre-election commitments.

"Members of the RSL expect the government to live up to its pre-election promises," Rear Admiral Doolan said.

"While they are pleased at increased funding for Defence, they are dismayed that the pay increases put before the DFRT did not even cover the increased cost of living of ADF personnel. Service men and women are the heart and soul of our Defence Force and deserve to be treated with respect and fairness."

The league president also said that a motion had been passed at the national board meeting in Sydney on Tuesday condemning the decision: the budget move to index veteran disability pensions to the consumer price index (CPI) from 2017,dropping the use of other indexes which have applied since 2007.

"This decision is at complete odds with the earlier welcome decision of government to move away from the CPI for the indexation of superannuation entitlements for some DFRB and DFRDB recipients," Rear Admiral Doolan said.

"In putting forward that welcome legislation in 2014, the government argued that indexation by CPI was unfair.

"How can they now contend that indexation by CPI for some veterans' entitlements from 2017 is fair?"


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