Evidence Of Soldiers' Starvation Pay Rates
1 July 1999
New Zealand First has accused the government of paying starvation rates of pay to lower ranked soldiers which forces them on to welfare.
Defence spokesperson, Ron Mark, today asked the Prime Minister in Parliament why Defence pay rates were so much lower than those of Police, Fire Service, and Prison staff.
In Parliament, Mr Mark tabled two pay slips which showed that a recruit received only $13,200 per annum while undergoing basic training and $19,250 while Corps training.
Deductions of $126.42 a fortnight were taken from the soldier's pay for board and lodging.
Mr Mark said that a number of soldiers were living on the poverty line, but he had been unable to get accurate information about their plight from the Minister of Defence or Defence officials.
"It disgusts me to hear that we have soldiers dependent on welfare in order to feed and clothe their families.
"I know that there are married service personnel who draw down what amounts to state charity through their community services card.
"Some of these families only survive because of accommodation supplements and emergency benefits.
Mr Mark said that lower ranked soldiers were at a disadvantage when compared to just about every other worker in the country.
"Unlike other government frontline employees, these soldiers have no union, no industrial clout and no way of fighting for better pay and conditions."
Mr Mark said he has asked for a meeting with Defence officials next week to discuss the pay rates issue.