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Legislation addresses veterans' concerns

12 December 2001 Media Statement

Legislation addresses veterans' concerns

Long-standing grievances of New Zealand war veterans have been addressed today, with the introduction of the War Pensions Amendment Bill (No 2) 2001 to Parliament.

"This Bill actions two government promises made in our veterans' package announced in April this year," Veterans' Affairs Minister Mark Burton said.

"The first is to transfer the Veteran's Pension from the Social Welfare (Transitional Provisions) Act 1990, into the War Pension Act 1954. The second is removing the anomaly where veterans lose their entire pension immediately if they work.

"Recipients of the Veteran's Pension include those who have reached retirement age, and those veterans who have a medical condition which prevents them undertaking permanent employment.

"The placement of the Veteran's Pension in the Social Welfare Act in 1990 was intended as a transitional measure – but was left in place untouched for the next decade. Moving it to the War Pensions Act will deal with an inappropriate situation that does not recognise the unique status of veterans.

"The current placement also fails to recognise the common link between Veterans' Pensions and War Pensions in terms of qualifying service. There are distinct benefits to be gained from combining all war-related pensions into the same piece of legislation.

"The legislation introduced today will also help address the rehabilitation needs of veterans," Mark Burton said.

"Those recipients of the Veteran's Pension who are under the retirement age, currently lose the whole of their pension immediately if they undertake any form of paid work, and in some cases, voluntary work. Veterans will now have a "free zone" which will enable them to earn up to $80 per week; thereafter various abatements will apply. Allowing working age veterans to participate in employment will for many benefit their overall rehabilitation.

"For decades the concerns and needs of veterans were ignored. In the last two years, this government has taken a series of significant steps to address those concerns," Mark Burton said.

ENDS

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