The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP
Member for New England
Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
- January 2024
VETERANS’ COMPENSATION REFORM DRAGS ON: ONE MONTH OVERDUE
A promised overhaul of veterans’ compensation is now a month overdue with the Labor Government failing to meet a critical deadline set by the ongoing Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
The Federal Government had promised to have draft legislation ready for public consultation by 22 December 2023, in keeping with the Royal Commission’s deadline.
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Barnaby Joyce, said as of this week the legislation was now a month overdue, and still no explanation from the Minister.
“Vital reform to help our veterans and their families is now dragging on,” Mr Joyce said.
“Maybe at this week’s Labor Party ‘brainstorming session’, the Minister could whisper into the Prime Minister’s ear that important veterans’ reforms are overdue,” Mr Joyce said.
“Veterans are paying the price for Labor’s preoccupation with the Voice throughout 2023. It meant major reform in areas such as veterans’ compensation was put on hold. Like so many other areas, including the cost of living, the government took its eye off the ball,” Mr Joyce said.
There are over 37,000 veterans, war widows and dependents who rely on some form of assistance and compensation from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
He said veterans’ compensation entitlements were currently contained across three separate pieces of legislation often with different levels of assistance and eligibility.
“It’s been a source of constant confusion and, sometimes, inequity. The Royal Commission, which was established by the previous Coalition Government, made it clear that new legislation was needed to streamline and harmonise entitlements; and it made it clear the draft legislation should have been ready last month,” he said.
Mr Joyce said veterans continued to pay a heavy price for Prime Minister Albanese’s decision to remove the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs from Cabinet. “That meant veterans lost their voice at Cabinet too,” he said.
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