THIRD-generation navy sailor Richard Usher is fighting for a fair go for the ex-servicemen and women he claims are being ripped off by the Federal Government’s military superannuation pension.
As residents in Rockingham and Kwinana prepare to mark Anzac Day next Wednesday, many former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel who braved wars and conflicts for Australia are getting ready for a new battle – for equity.
Mr Usher is WA president of the Defence Force Welfare Association, which has launched Operation Aware, calling for changes to the way the Defence Force Retirement and the Death Benefits Scheme (DFRDB) is calculated.
He said the pension for personnel who served more than 20 years was based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), while the Age Pension was calculated by more accurate cost of living indexes.
“We have been ripped off by the government and it is still happening to the young servicemen and women serving now,” he said.
Mr Usher said the average military pension was about $23,000 or about $64 a day, which meant many people had to live scrupulously.
He served in the navy from 1960 to 1990, including 24 years at HMAS Stirling on Garden Island, where he retired as executive officer.
“It is a growing issue; I’m not just concerned about myself and ex-service people but the current serving men and women at Garden Island.” he said.
Brand MHR Gary Gray said caring for retired military members was a priority for the government but it would not change the current indexation method.
Mr Gray said superannuation payments were generally available to ADF members earlier than the public, the scheme provided a guaranteed level of income and was not affected by investment returns like private sector superannuation.
“On leaving the services, members can commute up to five times their pension, which would be adjusted accordingly,” he said.
“In their 60s, military superannuants also have access to the service or age pension, if eligible – changing indexation will not change this situation.”
Mr Gray said while the age pension was often the only source of income for many Australians over 65, DFRDB superannuants could access additional financial assistance, including the age pension or service pension.