Just two weeks before Remembrance Day on November 11, the Albanese Labor Government has confirmed it will slash more than $2 million from a dedicated program to mark the private graves of First World War veterans.
The program had benefited from $3.7 million in funding under the previous Coalition Government after a pilot program placed 1,189 markers on the graves of men and women who had served in World War I.
However, Labor’s first budget has cut the funding by more than half, to $1.5 million spread across four years.
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Minister for Veterans Affairs, Barnaby Joyce, said the funding cut was breathtaking, particularly on the cusp of Remembrance Day which observes the end of World War I.
“In Labor’s first budget they slashed funding to a program that remembers our heroes who fought for our country to give us the life, values and liberties we have today,” Mr Joyce said.
“I ask Labor’s Anthony Albanese one simple question: how can you not find the funding to remember those who fought in World War I, yet you could find funding for something called the Climate Warriors training program; and you could find almost $10 million for radical groups such as the Environmental Defenders Office and Environmental Justice Australia,” Mr Joyce said.
Mr Joyce said the World War I war graves program enabled grave markers to be placed on the unmarked private graves of First World War veterans who had not been eligible to be commemorated formally by the Australian Government which usually occurred if they hadn’t died in the war, or because of causes related to their service.
Mr Joyce said a pattern was emerging in Labor’s opening months of government towards veterans.
“The very first action of the Prime Minister was to dump the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs from Cabinet. The second action has been an attempted politicisation of the Australian War memorial. The third action was to cut eight veteran welfare hubs from the budget. And now we see that even programs dedicated to the memory of those who served, are being cut,” he said.