Candidates in the firing line over defence issues

ALL EARS: Candidates for the seat of Blair including Shayne Neumann (Labor and Teresa Harding (LNP) front a forum to explain their defence policies.
ALL EARS: Candidates for the seat of Blair including Shayne Neumann (Labor and Teresa Harding (LNP) front a forum to explain their defence policies. David Nielsen

IT WAS a case of good, better, best as Blair's candidates presented their credentials to a forum of defence personnel.

The forum organised by the Alliance of Defence Service Organisations (ADSO) covered a range of defence issues but one was paramount.

Candidates from Labor (Shayne Neumann), the LNP (Teresa Harding), the PUP (Tony Stanton) and the KAP's Dale Chorley fronted up yesterday.

They were each given seven minutes to lay out their defence policies before taking questions from about 25 people in the audience at the North Ipswich RSL Services Club.

The forum became feisty after questions were taken from the audience with Mr Neumann taking most of the flak.

It was announced at the start he had to leave after an hour to go to a CWA annual general meeting.

But that didn't stop one of the men in the crowd from shouting, "That's right; just walk out," as he left right on 10.30am.

Moderator Morry Hill, from the ADSO, concluded the indexation of Defence Forces Retirement Benefit (DFRB) and the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits (DFRDB) military superannuation pensions was the hot topic for ex-servicemen and women.

"At the start, they signed up for an indexation that would maintain purchasing power," Mr Hill said.

"At the time, the mechanism to maintain purchasing power was the CPI and that was relevant because it applied across the board.

"In 1997, the mechanism for indexing age and service pensions was changed to CPI or a percentage of male average weekly earnings. What happened to us? We stayed with the CPI.

"Again in 2009 the Labor Government reviewed that mechanism and added (PBLCI) Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index. We're sliding down into genteel poverty."

Mr Neumann defended his government's position of helping ex-personnel 65 and over while criticising the LNP's proposal as financially irresponsible.

Ms Harding said that to ensure fair indexation is applied, all those 55 and over would have their pensions indexed in the same way as age pensions.

Mr Stanton upped the ante, saying a Palmer United Party government would make the Coalition changes retrospective.

"What Labor is saying will lift that up slightly by about $50 a year," Mr Hill said.

"The Coalition policy gives the same indexation as the age and services pension and that arrests the downward slide and flattens it so it's running on the same line as the age pension which is what we want but there's that big gap where we missed out.

"Enter the PUP and they said we'll give it all back to you.

"That's ideal and that's great.

"I don't know if they can afford it but that's where the promises are."



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