The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP
Member for New England
Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
25 January 2024
Defence Widows, Wounded & Families Left Waiting Two Years For Government Recognition
It took the government one day to approve a $2.4 million payout to a former political staffer but, as of today, war widows and their families have waited exactly two years for the Labor Government to decide if they should get a simple medallion to remember those who died in service.
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Hon Barnaby Joyce MP, says Australians would be flummoxed by the two-year wait for such a simple but important recognition to the memory of loved ones; and for the grief and hardship inflicted on the Defence Force families by death or serious injury.
“Exactly two years ago today [25 January 2022] the independent Defence Honors and Appeals Tribunal handed down a report titled “Recognising Their Sacrifice” which made a series of recommendations that are still sitting on the Minister’s desk awaiting a decision. Two years,” Mr Joyce said.
He said the Coalition Government’s then Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Hon. Darren Chester MP, commissioned the report for the express purpose of ensuring proper recognition to members and families of the Australian Defence Force who were injured, wounded, or killed as a result of their service.
“The recommendations were clear and simple,” Mr Joyce said, “and the cost infinitesimal”.
Amongst the recommendations was that a memorial clasp be posthumously awarded to a member of the defence force or a veteran who died as a result of service; with a second recommendation being to award a Memorial Star to the widow and family of someone who died in service, or whose death was service related.
Other recommendations included a Gratitude Clasp for those seriously wounded or injured because of service; and a Gratitude Star to recognise the families of those who were.
[Media Note: a copy of the full report and recommendations can be found at this link: https://defence-honours-tribunal.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/The-Report-of-the-Inquiry-into-recognition-for-members-and-families-of-members-who-are-injured-wounded-or-killed-in-or-as-a-result-of-service.pdf ).
Mr Joyce said as soon as the recommendations were handed down in January 2022, the then Coalition Government convened a meeting with ex-Service Organisations to discuss the report’s recommendations.
“The government then changed and Prime Minister Albanese infamously dumped the position of Minister for Veterans’ Affairs from Labor’s Cabinet, and the recommendations have never been heard of again,” Mr Joyce said.
“Yet again, we see the sand in the gearbox of government”, he said.
Mr Joyce called on the Labor Government to use the second anniversary of the report to explain why no decision had been made; and to explain what could be so seriously complex about such a simple and important recognition, for those who served and their families.
Media Contact: Heidi Williamson 0436 807 792