14 May 2023
Veterans urgently need their own dedicated Minister back at the Cabinet table following last week’s budget that confirmed there are no further plans by the Labor Government to announce any new veterans’ hubs anywhere in Australia over the next four years.
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Barnaby Joyce, also said the 107-page addendum budget paper dedicated to the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to make a single mention of the veteran’s homeless crisis.
Mr Joyce said funding for Veterans’ Affairs would increase by a “barely noticeable” 0.94%, a far cry from Australia’s 7% inflation rate, with Department funding increasing from $12.21 billion last year to a forecast $12.32 billion in 2023/24.
Mr Joyce said veterans were paying a high price for Prime Minister Albanese’s first decision when he became Prime Minister to dump the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs from Cabinet.
“This budget is the consequence of veterans not having a voice at the Cabinet table where funding decisions are made. Instead, veterans have to rely on their Minister trying to politely plead for support from outside the door”, Mr Joyce said.
“Last year the Labor government committed to eight new veterans’ hubs in their budget. In that process they axed another eight hubs that had been fully costed and committed to, by the previous Coalition government. Now, the budget papers show that over the next four years there are no plans for any further hubs”, he said.
“$13.7 million has been allocated to completing the existing hubs, with that funding dwindling to exactly zero by 2026/27”, he said.
“Does Labor seriously think the need for new hubs will no longer exist after that?”, Mr Joyce asked.
Mr Joyce said the last weeks budget should have been an opportunity for the Labor Government to show that it was taking seriously the work and interim findings of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide by scaling-up funding and programs dedicated to veterans’ wellbeing.
“Instead, the budget confirms there are no plans whatsoever. No plans mean no vision. No plans mean no Ministerial clout”, he said.
The eight veteran hubs axed by the Labor Government are:
• Mid-north coast region - NSW
• Wagga Wagga region - NSW
• Mackay region - QLD
• Wide-Bay Burnett region - QLD
• Sunshine Coast region - QLD
• Greater Melbourne - VIC
• Mornington Peninsula – VIC
• Greater Sydney - NSW
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