A Fair Go? Certainly, I Need Your Vote.

by on 1 August, 2013

A. Essery

In a move that is dripping with nauseating self-interest and cheap vote buying, Kevin Rudd and his Defence Minister in waiting, Mike Kelly, have announced they will unveil ''proposed'' changes that may bring some fairness to a contractual obligation that this Labor government has been dodging since it came to office in 2007.

Prior to coming to government in 2007 one of Kevin Rudd's election promises was to correct the matter of ex-defence personnel being ripped off by governments whose refusal to face up to their contractual obligations resulted in ex-service superannuation pensioners receiving less than old age pensioners.  On becoming Prime Minister, Rudd dismissed his promise and instead initiated yet another in a long line of reviews and the Labor government then distorted the outcome to renege on his election promise to the defence community.

Since that time the ex-service superannuants were promised by the now Defence Minister In Waiting, Mike Kelly, that when the matter came up for a vote in parliament he would vote in favour of the bill. Mike Kelly is an ex-serviceman himself and was familiar with the injustice of the unfair indexation, but he betrayed the ex-service superannuants and voted against the bill. Kelly turned against his former comrades-in-arms and became as untrustworthy as the rest of the Rudd/Gillard government.

Finance Minister, Penny Wong came out with a ridiculous cost to the commonwealth of $6.2 billion to honour its contractual obligation to ex-service superannuants. We had the Minister for Veteran's Affairs, Warren Snowden, proclaiming that he wouldn't support a correction because he didn't believe the arguments being put up by the Alliance of Defence Forces Organisations. Then there was the Treasurer who said the amount of superannuation paid to ex-service personnel was ''very generous' and in any case the government couldn't afford the cost. Of course he failed to mention that he and his politician mates had just received what could only be described as an obscene increase in the remuneration and superannuation that far outweighed their worth and their contribution to the people of Australia.

Let us not forget the Queen of Deception & Misinformation, Julia Gillard who only a couple of months ago visited a girls school in Queensland and in reply to a question from a student told those present that it would cost ''billions and billions of dollars'' and in any case these people already receive very generous pensions, much more than old age pensioners. Those statements were purely and simply deceptively incorrect. 

Gillard forgot to mention that her Finance Minister, Penny Wong, had recently made an admission that the cost of bringing some fairness to defence superannuation indexation was really only around $370 million. Not only was that figure a dramatic departure from $6.2 billion, but it now included the cost of providing fair indexation to retired commonwealth public servants as well and now Rudd is saying it will only cost $290 million. Another late estimate is a ludicrous $34 million over four years. (?)

Readers may think that those ex-service personnel affected by unfair indexation would be grateful to Rudd and his government. Why should they be grateful? The Labor party has been lying, deceiving, obfuscating and misleading the defence family and the public over this matter since 2007 and now miraculously, on the eve of an election, Rudd has dropped their previous refusals and says he will pay up in part only—maybe.  

If it was not so close to an election and Rudd was seen to be genuinely applying a remedy to a too long open sore then there may be some gratitude, but this was a sickening move to take the defence family for fools and buy the votes of a large voting bloc that had signalled its intention of launching an anti-Labor campaign during the lead up to an election. 

To add further insult, Rudd's proposal only applies to those over 65 years of age and that means that not all ex-service superannuants will benefit. However, this is only a proposal that may or may not take effect after the election – if Labor wins. 

Personally, I wouldn't be holding my breath waiting for the Labor party to make good on this latest ''promise''. After all, Rudd and his crowd have a dismal record when it comes to keeping promises. I would rather take my chances with the infinitely more honest Tony Abbott who signed a pledge to correct this failure a long time ago and well before there was any talk of a pending election.

Alan Essery is an ex-RAAF officer retired from active duty. He was a flight instructor and charter pilot. He also writes on matters political and is a staunch battler for ex-service superannuants. He is also rumoured to be a savvy fossicker for the yellow stuff.

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