Media Release - 30 October 2001

The National President of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia, Mr Brian McKenzie said today, "The Association welcomed the new initiatives by both the Liberal and Labor parties in their pre-election Veterans Policy documents tabled recently. Unfortunately many of the 'real issues' have been ignored.

Responding to the tabling by the Liberal and Labor parties of their Veterans Affairs policies Mr McKenzie said that no attention has been paid to the discrimination that exists towards some widows of younger veterans whereby they are unable to access supplementary income until reaching 57 years of age despite many nursing their disabled spouses to the very end.

Then there are the issues of servicemen and women who are totally and permanently incapacitated who have been requesting the government to review their payments. Many are doing it tough because their compensation payments are being continually eroded due to the lack of effective indexing.

Compensation payments to 25,000 disabled veterans continue to be eroded because of inaction to ensure their standard of living and quality of lifestyle is maintained. Some 11,000 Vietnam Veterans are affected and continue to suffer.

Given the current war on terror and the commitment of Australian Forces to this global conflict I call on the Prime Minister to put in place a process whereby those disabled veterans returning are given adequate compensation that is not subject to ongoing erosion. Disabled veterans have paid a significant price in the service of their country and the government of the day has moral responsibility to ensure that their living standards are maintained; Mr McKenzie said.

Promises of action, reviews and investigations at election time are too often forgotten when the event is over. The reviews that have been promised by the Government and Opposition must include the erosion of payments for disability compensation and changes to the Veterans Entitlement Act that deny many veterans their proper entitlements, Mr McKenzie said.

Mr McKenzie called on all political parties to put the welfare of all in the veteran community first before political expediency and any vote grabbing exercise.

Media Contact: Brian McKenzie 0439 030 429


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