Letter from Neil Weekes on DFRB/DFRDB Indexation

Neil Weekes, AM, MC
30 Hinchinbrook Drive
KIRWN, TOWNSVILLE QLD 4817

G'day all

Well, I have put my money where my mouth is! Attached is a letter I have sent today, by registered mail, to each of the following: Senators Wong, Xenophon, Brown and Lundy, as well as to the Prime Minister and Tony Abbott. Please feel free to distribute a copy of my letter far and wide.

As you will appreciate I am most concerned that this Government failed to honour its pre-election commitment and it has failed to heed the advice of a number of previous external reviews the majority of which indicated that the CPI was inappropriate to index the DFRB/DFRDB superannuants' "pensions". Because of some serendipity and some inheritance, I am OK so this does not really impact on me, personally. However, I am aware that some of our former Defence members who served 20 years or more are doing it tough.

Now, whether or not you are a DFRB/DFRDB superannuant, you should be concerned about the Senate's latest decision to negate the Fairer Indexation Bill on 16 June. We have always been a team, we have stood by each other, we have defended our mates, especially those who are in difficult situations. We need your help now.

Quite frankly, if there is not sufficient interest in winning this battle, if there is not sufficient support for our mates and their families, then I and the others involved in this fight are wasting our time. We need "People Power" to convince the Government, and the Opposition, that we are united on this. We need to demonstrate very clearly to them that we are cheesed off and that we will continue to make a noise about this that will continue to increase until they agree that the CPI is inappropriate, and introduce a more appropriate indexation method, or until they are voted out - preferably at the next election, if not sooner!!!. Soon we will be like the few remaining POWs, getting a "handout" from the Government when we are too old to put it to good use. The Government will wait until then to act. Can you wait that long???

Please send this email and the attached letter to at least 20 of your mates and then ask them to send it on to another 20 and ask them to do the same thing. We must have "People Power" to convince the Politicians that we are fair dinkum. Write to your local Member of Parliament and to your State Senators. Do not become enmeshed in "financial arguments". Concentrate on the "principle and moral obligations" of the Government, especially as the Labor Party has abandoned the spirit of its election commitment to conduct a review that would address the inadequacy and inequity of the Indexation method (CPI) which has not kept up with the cost of living. Do not be abusive nor use inflammatory language but ensure they know that you are not a happy chappy!!! Ask your friends and family to write. Use my letter as a guideline but ensure that you use your words and please DO NOT SIT BACK AND DO NOTHING!!@!

We need your support. Your mates need your support.

Over to you.

Cheers,

Neil Weekes, AM, MC
30 Hinchinbrook Drive
KIRWN, TOWNSVILLE QLD 4817
Telephone: 0747736932

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Senator Nick Xenophon
Senator Penny Wong
Senator Bob Brown
Senator Kate Lundy
The Hon. Prime Minister Julia Gillard MP
The Hon. Tony Abbott MP


Following the Senate’s rejection of the Fair Indexation Bill on 16th June, 2011, I forwarded a number of emails to your office to express my bitter disappointment on the Senate’s decision as, in my view, it was a shameful betrayal of the men and women who have served our Nation in the Australian Defence Force for 20 years or more.

I was appalled that this decision was primarily based on financial restraints and yet our Politicians, including you, never hesitate to approve an increase to your own salaries, despite the financial state of the Nation!!

It is a complete mockery for members of our Parliament to attend the funerals of our young warriors who have been killed in action, and to observe a minute’s silence in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, and yet you reject a Bill which would have aligned the increases to DFRB and DFRDB superannuants’ pensions with our old age pensioners. This disgraceful decision, obviously based on Party lines, has alienated the Veteran Community and it has ensured that DFRB and DFRDB superannuants will see their measly pension (average annual pension is approximately $23,600) continue to lose its purchasing power. This will be exacerbated by increases to the cost of electricity, increased vehicle registration, increased cost of food, increased cost of petrol, increased insurance cost, increased medical costs and the list goes on and undoubtedly will include new taxes!!

This is compounded for those surviving spouses who only receive 5/8th of the DFRB/DFRDB superannuants’ pension which continues to be indexed against the CPI. It seems inequitable and immoral to me that the surviving spouse of a political pensioner has his/her pension indexed against the increases to the salary of a back bencher. Does this mean that a politician’s spouse makes such a huge contribution to the defence and well-being of our Nation when compared to the spouse of a lowly soldier, airman or navy personnel? Where is the justice in this?

Could you please explain to me why the Government has accepted the recommendation by the Matthews Review that the CPI remains the most appropriate method of indexation for military superannuants? If this is a legitimate argument, then please explain to the Veteran Community why your pensions are not indexed against the CPI when you retire?

The Matthews Review does suggest the use of an Analytical Living Cost Index and the Government introduced the Pensioners and Beneficiaries Cost of Living Index (PBCLI) the day after the Matthews Review was released. Why was the PBCLI not accepted as a fair indexation for military superannuants?

Apparently my emails, to which I referred in my opening paragraph did not reach your office. Consequently I am enclosing copies of both emails for your attention. Please note that they have been distributed to a very wide distribution list and most recipients have in turn redistributed them to their own mailing lists.

You should be aware that this decision has angered the Veteran Community and we will continue to fight for a “fair go”, especially as the Labor Party has abandoned the spirit of its election commitment

to conduct a review that would address the inadequacy and inequity of the Indexation method (CPI) which has not kept up with the cost of living.

This is immoral, it lacks the principle of “a fair go” espoused by all politicians and especially by the Labor Party. How do you explain this to a Veteran who has fought for his country, who has been sent into action by his Government, who has seen his mates fall in action, who has readily surrendered his own freedoms so that our nation can meet its International commitments and to ensure our Nation remains free?

I formerly request that you acknowledge receipt of my letter and that you provide me with your answers, not your Party line answers, to the questions I have posed in this missive.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Weekes, AM, MC
Brigadier Retired

Patron of The Townsville Sub-Branch of the RSL
Patron of The Townsville Branch of Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia
Patron of The Townsville Branch of the National Servicemen’s Association of Australia