‘I think that like anyone in the veterans’ community, we were a little bit surprised and don’t understand why the Government would do this,’ Navy Divers Trust secretary Ian Milliner said.
However, Australian Defence Force Trust executive director Allison Stephens said although the cut could affect some financially stressed veterans’ families, the bonus was only a year old and relatively small.
In Canberra last week, Federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten said it was ‘unconscionable’ the Government would consider cutting veterans’ families from the bonus.
The Rudd government introduced the bonus using income from contentious mineral resources rent tax, and its removal could save about $260,000 in the May budget.
Asked if Afghanistan veterans would be quarantined from the cut, Curtin MHR Julie Bishop said the Government was committed to veterans’ needs and that the Veterans Children’s Education Scheme, Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act or Education and Training Scheme would be unchanged.
‘The bonus has only been paid once as it was linked to the former Labor government’s mining tax, which failed to raise enough revenue, leaving this payment unfunded,’ Ms Bishop said.
Asked about preparations for the expected lag in the appearance of some veterans’ mental and physical injuries long-term, Ms Bishop said $166 million a year was spent on general and mental health and legislation to index benefits was to have been introduced to Parliament last week.
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