Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Ex-Servicemen and Women of Australia call for minimum wage

A group representing veterans with serious disabilities has rejected the federal government’s assertion their current pension was adequate.

The Federation of Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Ex-Servicemen and Women of Australia have called the treatment of veterans “disgraceful” after the recent budget failed to raise the pension for all 28,000 of them.

Ahead of the last election the government committed to a review of the pension, which was more than $10,000 less annually than the minimum wage.

In a letter to the association in April 2019, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the club made a “compelling case” for an increase from the fortnightly payment of $1451.

“The fact that TPI veterans are not able to earn an income as a result of their service to our nation means that their loss of income during what would have been their working life should be appropriately recognised and replaced,” Mr Morrison wrote.

A subsequent review concluded there was not strong evidence for increasing the payment for all recipients.

A spokesperson from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs said the independent review by David Tune recommended more targeted support for the most severely impaired recipients of the disability pension and a more streamlined administration of the disability pension.

“The government has accepted the findings of Mr Tune and announced changes to the disability pension as part of the 2020-21 budget, spending $25.9 million on this measure over the forward estimates,” the spokesperson said.

“Around 73 per cent of recipients receive a means tested income support payment, such as the Service Pension which is up to $944 per fortnight, bringing the maximum amount payable to $2396 per fortnight or $62,298 per year.”

The spokesperson said Australian taxpayers could be proud of the support provided to Permanently Incapacitated veterans.

“At this stage, there is no proposal to further review the payment rate beyond the six-monthly indexation process, which references the Consumer Price Index, the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index and Male Total Average Weekly Earnings.”

National president Pat McCabe was a serving member of the Navy when at 24 she was involved in a car accident.

After returning to work her disability progressively got worse and she was forced to retire early.

Ms McCabe said the majority of the TPIs were Vietnam veterans, many with a combination of both psychological and physical injuries.

“We’re just asking for it to at least be a liveable wage and keep up the standard of living most Australians expect,” Ms McCabe said.

“That’s all we are asking for.”

Alex Crowe Canberra Times – NOVEMBER 8 2020