ORPHANS of Australian soldiers killed or badly injured in service will have their welfare payments cut with the Abbott Government arguing it cannot afford them.
About 1240 children of defence force personnel have been paid an “income support bonus” of $211 a year since March last year following the death or incapacity of a parent who has served overseas.
Among them are children aged under 16 who are homeless or are living away from home. Young people aged up to 25 whose main income is unemployment, youth or education benefits also qualify.
The payments cost taxpayers $260,000 a year and were brought in to help with expected costs, like urgent repairs or large bills.
But late last week Veterans’ Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson ordered the payments under the Veterans’ Children Education Scheme and Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act Education and Training Scheme be ended as soon as the Government can repeal the mining tax.
Senator Ronaldson said the money for the payments was not there. “The Government considers that it is not in the interests of the general welfare to continue such bonus payments in the absence of the resources necessary to do so.”
The payments were one of a several brought in with the Minerals Resource Rent Tax, which Labor promised would spread the proceeds of mining to the community but raised far less revenue than predicted.
The Coalition has promised to scrap the mining tax and end all schemes linked to it.
But Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said: “I am genuinely shocked this Government could be so callous.”
“The families of our veterans deserve respect and gratitude. Taking away their modest payments is incredibly insulting.