Hand-over of responsibility for War Pensions
Hon Rick Barker
Minister of Veterans’ Affairs
7 July 2008 Media Statement
Hand-over of responsibility for War Pensions marked
A group of New Zealand’s war veterans took part in a special event held at Parliament today recognising Veterans' Affairs New Zealand becoming the sole agency with responsibility for delivering all aspects of War Disablement Pensions.
"Veterans are special people and have been in harm's way on behalf of our country," Mr Barker said.
"The transfer of the responsibility for their care is a significant event and this government is committed to ensuring the services we deliver to veterans are of the highest standard and that our duty of care to them is maintained."
In the past, the administration of War Disablement Pensions was split between Veterans' Affairs New Zealand (VANZ) and the Ministry of Social Development. From July 1 the delivery of War Disablement Pensions was transferred to VANZ. VANZ continues to sit within the New Zealand Defence Force and has lost its semi-autonomous status. These changes better recognise the lifetime responsibility of the Chief of Defence Force to veterans.
During the Parliamentary function, Ministry of Social Development head, Peter Hughes symbolically handed over a framed copy of the War Pensions Act 1915, to Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Mateparae to acknowledge the transfer of responsibility. Minister Barker also expressed his gratitude for the role that the Ministry of Social Development had played in caring for veterans.
"Staff from both agencies were working hard to deliver a high standard of service to our veterans but it became clear that the system needed to be re-engineered. Two reviews found that there were inefficiencies in the delivery of War Disablement Pensions and we have acted to address these issues.
"Veterans can now deal directly with one organisation for all enquires about entitlements and services, and improved efficiency and clearer lines of responsibility will enable improvements to be made to processing times. The changes will also allow VANZ to broaden its role in brokering services for veterans and case managing their claims for any state assistance.
"The next step in the Veterans' Affairs portfolio is the rewrite of the War Pensions Act. The Law Commission is expected to release a discussion document on the rewrite later this month," Mr Barker said.