January 14, 2007 -- A 400-YEAR epoch of world history is  about to draw to a close. If Britain's current Labor government
has its way, Britain's Royal Navy will mothball at least 13, and perhaps as many as 19, of its remaining 44 ships,or nearly half its effective fleet.
With one bureaucratic stroke, the Ministry of Defense will end a naval tradition reaching back to Sir Francis Drake -
reducing the Royal Navy, which 40 years ago was still the second- largest fleet in the world, to the size of navies of countries
like Indonesia and Turkey.
This decision, of course, has to be set against the  background of Britain's decades-long decline as a world power.
But it also reflects a struggle for the soul of Great Britain that has been going since World War II: Is Britain part of an
English-speaking, Atlantic-based strategic alliance that includes the United States and Canada? Or is it part of Europe
as envisioned by technocrats in Paris, Brussels and Berlin?
NEXT month's final decision on whether to scrap the Royal Navy may supply us with the answer. Because the Blair
government's drastic plans include more than taking existing ships out of commission. The service's entire future as a blue-
water navy (that is, a navy capable of operations outside Britain's own waters) may be forfeit.
According to The Daily Telegraph, plans for two new fleet carriers of the kind vital for fighting today's War on Terror
and projecting power overseas - and for which $6.9 billion had already been set aside - will also be scrapped. Two new
destroyers, which were supposed to replace at least some of the retired ships, are also out of the picture. The Telegraph even
reports (Jan. 8) that all officer promotions in the navy are to be suspended for the next five years.
Many in the government and in the media blame these cuts on Tony Blair's support for the U.S. war in Iraq. They claim the
British troop presence there is eating up the British defense budget, leaving the other services like the navy to fight over
table scraps.
But this is far from the whole story. Since the mid '80s, British defense spending has shrunk by more than 30 percent, to
less than 2.5 percent of GDP. Today it is at its lowest level since 1930. Even welfare states such as France and Germany spend
more on their military. (Meanwhile, Blair is busy hacking back the British commitment in Iraq from 7,000 to 4,500 troops - less
than 4 percent of the coalition total.
The truth is that for two centuries Britain and the Royal Navy played the role of global cop, policing the world's sea  trade lanes which keep the global economy going. (Even today, 95 percent of the weight of all intercontinental trade travels by sea.)
AFTER World War II, the U.S. Navy gradually took over that thankless but essential task; the British felt free to relax. From a postwar peak of 388 ships and submarines in 1950, the Royal Navy had dwindled to 112 vessels in 1980. By 2004. it was down to just 46.
Yet the British navy still takes pride in sharing the global cop burden with the United States in vital strategic areas like the Persian Gulf, and even being able to project  power trans-oceanically alone when it has to, as during the Falklands War.
Analysts agree that once these forecast cuts go through, this will be impossible. Indeed, a Royal Navy of only 25 vessels
would require at least some cooperation from its European neighbors even to defend Britain.
This is a ominous trend for many reasons. It not only increases the burden on the U.S. Navy around the globe. It also
reflects a decision to move Britain away from its traditional maritime culture, which is the basis of its strategic relationship with the United States, and toward a decaying Europe.
SINCE 1945, Britain has been torn between the two, like a would-be bride torn between two suitors. Winston Churchill (who
was half-American) and Margaret Thatcher knew which to choose. "There is no hope for civilization," Churchill used to say, "if
we drift apart," meaning the United States and England. Blair, it is true, has been supportive on Iraq. But (like many recent British politicians) he has been eager to ingratiate himself with his continental neighbors, including by compromising Britain's defense capability. For example, his government stuck with the ill-fated EFA-2000 Euro-fighter project, even though it cost Britain 21/2 times the original
estimated cost ($37 billion versus $13.7 billion) and the RAF only got its planes after a 41/2-year delay.
Then in 1998 he endorsed Germany and France's idea of a European Defense Force separate from NATO and the United
States. Again, the cost of cooperation will be to reduce the British army to just one more unit in a European military coalition led from Brussels, not London.
Now come the naval cuts. Pure coincidence? It is not difficult to see the distant hand of the Paris-Brussels-Berlin axis at work.
And disasters like this will continue as long as British politicians fool themselves into thinking their future lies with the shrinking economies and aging populations of the continent of Europe.
IRONICALLY, Britain just celebrated the 200th anniversary of its naval victory over France at Trafalgar, which allowed Britain to build an empire and dominate the world's oceans. If these navy cuts go into effect, France will have a larger fleet than Britain for the first time since the mid-1600's.
The victory the French couldn't win at sea, they will win effortlessly and painlessly at the bureaucrat's desk.
Arthur Herman is the author of "To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World," which was nominated for
the Mountbatten Prize for best book in naval history in 2005.  His latest book, a study of Gandhi and Churchill, will be
published next year.

This page is to be dedicated to all the information available on Veterans Affairs,  Entitlements and Naval Matters of interest in general.....
Subject: Veteran Superannuation

The following arrived from a DFRB/DFRDB recipient earlier today.

It has been generated from a concerned retired Engineering Officer in Canberra ~Ron Sheargold ~ Dimples~. [email protected]

If you're a DFRB/DFRDBrecipient or know anyone who is... you will be interested as the Treasurer's proposed changes will adversely affect you & your spouse..!.

It is easy reading & maybe 17 pages long... but is definitely worth reading.


I have forwarded this because I think it will affect all of us.

Could you please forward it to as many people as you know who are DFRDB pension recipients.

I haven't yet read it in full, but the submission to the Treasurer seems to argue the case quite well.

However, as the covering email states, it requires ACTION by each and every one of us. It will quite substantially affect our pension outcomes, so it's in your own interest to not just sit on this and expect someone else to follow it up.

Attached is a copy of a paper I have prepared for submission to the Treasurer, challenging his ruling that the DFRB/DFRDB Funds are 'unfunded', and pensioners of those funds will not, therefore, receive the full benefit from the proposed taxation reforms of taxation of superannuation, due for implementation on July 1st, 2007, other than a 10% offset (explained in the paper, by the Treasurer)..

The submission is in PDF format, and requires Adobe Reader to open. A free download of Adobe Reader is available on

The exclusion from complete exemption of Taxation on superannuation payments, for those over 60, applies mainly to Military and Public Service superannuants.

Please read this paper carefully. Should we win an amendment to the status of our funds, you will benefit financially, and so will widows of DFRB/DFRDB deceased pensioners. This last point is important, as the death of a member results in the lower Widows' benefit, to 5/8ths of the Member Pension benefit.

I believe this paper mounts a good case for a change to the current Taxation opinion. Should you agree with me, I would ask of you to do the following:

Express your support of this paper to your Local Federal Member; and send it on to him/her;

Pass this letter and paper on to ex Military members in your address book, and ask them to do the same. I wish this paper to reach as many DFRB/DFRDB superannuants as possible. We will only win this one if a very large number of effected people contact their local members, and protest the matter.

Remember, there is an election coming up;

Contact the National HQ of the RSL urging the President. General Bill Crews to support this campaign; Support from your State Branch and local RSL Sub Branches would not go astray; and

Sign the Petition at, which will be up and running in about two weeks. Get your wives to sign also. The petition will provide you the opportunity to make personal comments.

I will be contacting as many Ex Service Organizations as possible, seeking their support.

Win or lose, this representation will not effect members of MSBS, or the PSS, and I hope many contributors to MSBS will support our cause.

Some important web sites and email addresses are:

Contact list of Federal Members:

National Secretary of the RSL, Mr. Derek Robson, AM
[email protected]

RSL State Branches:

ACT Branch. [email protected]
State President: Mr. Garry Brodie OAM
State Secretary: Mr. James Davidson

NSW Branch .[email protected]
State President: Mr. D.E.J. Rowe OAM
State Secretary: Mr Chris Perrin

South Australian Branch: [email protected]
State President: Mr. Jock Statton OAM
Executive Director: Mr John Spencer.

Tasmanian Branch: [email protected]
State President Mr. Tony Scott OAM JP [email protected]
State Secretary: Noeleen Lincoln OAM [email protected]

Victorian Branch: r[email protected]
State President Major General David Mclachlan AO (retd)
CEO: Mr. Michael Annett

Western Australian Branch: email [email protected]
State President: Mr. William Gaynor OAM RFD
State Secretary: Mr. Shane Seers OAM JP

Queensland Branch [email protected]
State President Mr. Doug Formby
CEO. Chris McHugh

Minister for Defence Media Mail List
Tuesday, 12 December 2006       162/2006


I am pleased to announce that following a detailed review of Navy's future
training infrastructure requirements, HMAS Cerberus in Victoria and the
Navy's four key Sydney bases will be retained in their present locations.

Conducted as a component of the Defence Force Disposition Program, the
review assessed the potential implications of relocating the training
functions conducted at HMAS Cerberus to the Sydney area. This included
possible advantages in rationalising Navy's existing Sydney training bases.

Analysis of the implications of closing HMAS Cerberus and relocating those
functions elsewhere showed that there would be no measurable advantage to
Navy personnel or to the Defence operating cost budget from such a proposal.

This decision now provides a firm basis for Navy's long term infrastructure
planning in support of both training and operations.

HMAS Cerberus provides well established training facilities, well suited to
training sailors and officers in a location that remains a key part of the
Royal Australian Navy's long and proud history.

I am pleased that the local community will continue to benefit from the
retention of HMAS Cerberus as a key Navy training base at Crib Point.

Associated with the decision to retain HMAS Cerberus, the review also
recommended the retention of Navy's key Sydney bases at HMAS Kuttabul (the
primary support base for Fleet Base East), plus training and operational
support bases at HMAS Watson (Watson's Bay), HMAS Waterhen (Waverton) and
HMAS Penguin (Mosman).

The decision to retain these bases provides a firm foundation and clearer
way forward for planning future Navy training and support functions in the
Sydney area.

VA008   Friday 12 January 2007


The Australian Government’s $600 million Gold Card enhancement package is already delivering veterans increased choice in accessing private health care, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Bruce Billson said today.

Worth more than $600 million over the next five years, the package is securing veteran Gold and White Repatriation Health Card holders’ continued access to free private health care provided by specialists, general practitioners, allied health care providers, dentists, optometrists and pathologists.

“Veterans now have increased choice in seeking health care with more specialists and allied health professional opening their doors to veterans with a Gold and White Card, thanks to the Australian Government’s additional $600 million investment in the system,” Mr Billson said.

“New fees are now in place for pathologists and other specialists, allied health professionals such as audiologists, occupational therapists, podiatrists and psychologists as well as dental and optometric providers, giving veterans increased access and choice in meeting their health needs. 

“More than 300,000 veterans and war widows use their Gold or White Cards to access the health care professionals they know and trust.

“The Government worked closely with health practitioners and the ex-services community in developing the package which recognises the high, and often complex, level of health care provided to Gold and White Card holders by medical professionals,” Mr Billson said. 

“We have a special duty to those who fought under our flag and were damaged as a result of their service, and ensuring timely and convenient access to quality health care is delivering on that promise.”

The Australian Government provides more than $4.6 billion in funding to meet the health needs of our nation's veterans. New fee arrangements for other medical providers will be implemented progressively in coming months.

A Gold Card provides the holder with treatment and care for all health care conditions at government expense, while a White Card identifies the recipient as being eligible for treatment and care for specific conditions.

Media inquiries: Cameron Hill  0408 239 521

Minister for Defence Media Mail List
Thursday, 8 February, 2007 004/07


I am pleased to announce I have selected New South Wales to be gifted the
Royal Australian Navy Guided Missile Frigate HMAS Adelaide for sinking as
dive wreck.
The New South Wales Government has indicated that the preferred location
HMAS Adelaide is off the New South Wales Central Coast, near Terrigal.
I thank my colleagues, Mr Jim Lloyd MP and Mr Ken Ticehurst MP, who have
been strong and persistent advocates for the Central Coast community.
continued support has undoubtedly assisted the NSW Government in its
to secure the ship, such that I am now able to gift HMAS Adelaide to NSW.
HMAS Adelaide will decommission late in 2007 at her home port in
Western Australia with handover to the New South Wales Government expected
in early to mid 2008.

In addition to the warship, the Howard Government will contribute up to $3
million in funding toward the costs of preparing the ship for sinking.

HMAS Adelaide was built in the United States and commissioned in the Royal
Australian Navy on 15 November 1980 and is the second ship to carry this
name. The first was a light cruiser that served from 1922 to 1945. HMAS
Adelaide was the first guided missile frigate to be home ported in Western

HMAS Adelaide participated in the 1990/91 Gulf War as part of Operation
DAMASK, Australia's participation in the international coalition against
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. More recently, the ship was deployed for
peacekeeping operations in East Timor in 1999 and to the Persian Gulf as
part of the International Coalition against Terrorism in 2001 and 2004.
HMAS Adelaide is 138 metres long, displaces 4100 tonnes and has a crew of
184 as well as helicopter aircrew and maintainers.

Tourism projects which have previously used former RAN warships to
dive wrecks have reportedly accrued annual revenues ranging from $2.4
million to $23 million to the significant benefit of local communities.

Media contacts
Nigel Blunden (Dr Nelson)
02 6277 7800 0407 632 931
Defence Media Liaison
02 6265 3343 0408 498 664


The following documents are available to view and download from this web-page. Adobe Reader required. See attached not click below.

Entitlement to Veterans Transport
Application for Veterans Concession Card
Application for Multi-Purpose Taxi Program

The Victorian Government is committed to ensuring that ex-service men and women are remembered, honoured and supported in recognition of the service they have offered their nation.  By educating future generations about the sacrifices of Victorian veterans, Victorians will be able to honour veterans’ service and learn from their legacy.  

On 30 June 2004, the Hon Steve Bracks, MP, Premier of Victoria announced that he would be responsible for veterans issues at the State level to give Victorian ex-service men and women a clear and prominent voice in Government.  The Veterans Unit in the Department for Victorian Communities has been established to centralise operational activities across Government and support the Premier in this role.  Key activities of the Unit are as follows:

Education and Commemoration

Administering a $500,000 grants program for restoring community war memorials in 2005 and $200,000 for 2006

Supporting the annual Spirit of ANZAC Schools Prize where secondary students are invited to submit entries ranging from poems to essays to capture the spirit of ANZAC. Nine student winners will join key State Government representatives each year on a special annual overseas trip to sites of significance involving Australian troops

Providing $50,000 per year to support ANZAC Day parade and commemorative services

Supporting the Shrine of Remembrance

Development and consolidation of ANZAC Day web-based resources for school and community education branches

Review of the Patriotic Funds Act 1958 and consultations on a proposed Victorian Veterans Council

Secretariat support to the Patriotic Funds Council
Implementation of concession travel for veterans holding a DVA Gold or White card who do not already receive travel concessions.  Eligible veterans may now receive the same V/Line and metropolitan transport concessions received by Victorian pensioners

Provision of free travel on Victorian Public Transport to include the day before and the day after ANZAC Day for veterans and war widows

The Veterans Unit provides a coordinated, whole-of-government response to issues affecting men and women who have served in Australia’s armed forces.  The Unit is also responsible for providing advice, research and strategic planning to the Government on policies, programs and services for veterans, along with developing and advising on ways to build effective relationships with stakeholders including government, business, ex-service and community organisations. 

For further information about the Veterans Unit and its work call (03) 9208 3228.

Subject: Parliamentary Speech by Alan Griffin MP - February 8

Anniversary of the HMAS Voyager Disaster
Mr GRIFFIN (Bruce) (9.54 a.m.)—I rise today to speak about an anniversary that takes place this Saturday: the 42nd anniversary of Australia’s greatest peacetime military training accident. On 10 February, 1964, 82 naval officers and sailors lost their lives when HMAS Melbourne, an aircraft carrier, collided with HMAS Voyager, a destroyer, off the south-east coast of Sydney. The Sea Power Centre outlines the events that took place that night in their ship history of the HMAS Voyager. It says that:

On the night of Monday, 10th February 1964, HMAS MELBOURNE was engaged in night flying exercises off the New South Wales coast. VOYAGER’s role was that of plane guard, involving the rescue, if necessary, of aircrew personnel from the sea. Since both ships had just completed refits, this was the first time they had been involved in close quarters manoeuvring for almost six months. Both the carrier and destroyer were ‘darkened’ with only navigational/operational lighting in use.

At approximately 2056, some twenty miles south east of Jervis Bay, the two ships were in collision. MELBOURNE struck VOYAGER at the after end of her bridge, heeling her over to an angle of about 50 degrees. A flash appeared to come from VOYAGER’s ‘A’ Boiler, and she emitted high-pressure steam and black smoke. Debris, including the revolution table from VOYAGER’s bridge, and a pair of binoculars, was thrown onto MELBOURNE’s flight deck.

The impact pushed VOYAGER bodily through the water for a few seconds, and then she broke in two. Her forward section passed down MELBOURNE’s port side, and the stern section down the starboard side. The forward section sank soon afterwards and the after section about three hours later. The disaster resulted in the loss of 82 lives (14 officers, including the commanding officer, 67 sailors and one civilian dockyard employee). There were 232 survivors. MELBOURNE was damaged but sustained no casualties.

The wreck of HMAS VOYAGER lies some 600 fathoms deep, twenty nautical miles off Cape Perpendicular on a bearing of 120 degrees.

Quite rightly, Australia commemorates and mourns those we have lost during wartime each year, obviously with the biggest commemorations taking place on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. There are also a number of other commemorative days throughout the year on which we remember those fallen in specific conflicts. However, often little attention is paid to those that we have lost during peacetime service or training accidents.

The collision between HMAS Voyager and Melbourne, whilst it is our greatest peacetime tragedy, has unfortunately not been a unique event. On 19 February 1948, at RAAF Base Amberley, a Lincoln crashed during landing, killing 16 young men. On 25 January 1950, a fuel explosion aboard HMAS Tarakan saw the deaths of eight young sailors. On 7 April 1955, in particularly tragic circumstances, four young men died when their Lincoln crashed into a mountain during a mercy flight for a sick child from Townsville to Brisbane. On 11 January 1974, five airmen died when their Iroquois crashed near Stanthorpe in Queensland. More recent tragedies include the 1996 Black Hawk collision near Townsville that killed 18; the 2005 Sea King disaster in Nias, Indonesia, that killed nine during a humanitarian assistance mission; and the Black Hawk chopper crash just last November near Fiji that claimed two lives.

These are just a few examples of the tragedies that have befallen our serving men and women while they were on duty engaged in peacetime activities, humanitarian assistance or training. There have been over 500 deaths during peacetime, some involving multiple personnel and others involving individuals, such as the tragic passing of Trooper Lawrence during a training exercise in 2004. (Time expired)


Please note that original speech also contained the following two paragraphs which did not get into Hansard due to the time expiration:

This should all serve as a constant reminder to our community of how dangerous and difficult the job of defending our country can be.  It should also serve as a reminder of how much we owe the young men and women that take on this task, as well as their families that are often called upon to make great sacrifices. 

So this Saturday on the anniversary of the collision between the HMAS Voyager and the HMAS Melbourne I would urge all of those from this place and the wider Australian community to cast a reflective thought to those men and women that we have lost in service of their country during peacetime.

This page was last updated: August 17, 2016
Veteran Affairs
Opening of the Vets Museum on Phillip Island Victoria
Why We Call a Ship a She By Rear Admiral Francis D. Foley, U.S. Navy (Retired)

A salty retired U.S. Navy flag officer shuns the current trend toward polical correctness.Ships are referred to as "she" because men love them, but this encompasses far more than just that. Man-o'-war or merchantman, there can be a great deal of bustle about her as well as a gang of men on deck, particularly if she is slim-waisted, well-stacked, and has an inviting superstructure. It is not so much her initial cost as it is her upkeep that makes you wonder where you founder.

She is greatly admired when freshly painted and all decked out to emphasize her cardinal points. If an aircraft carrier, she will look in a mirror when about to be arrested, and will wave you off if she feels you are sinking too low or a little too high, day or night. She will not hangar around with duds, but will light you off and launch you into the wild blue yonder when you muster a full head of steam.

Even a submarine reveals her topsides returning to port, heads straight for the buoys, knows her pier, and gets her breast-lines out promptly if she is single-screwed. On departure, no ship leaves port asleep, she always leaves awake. She may not mind her helm or answer to the old man when the going gets rough, and can be expected to kick up her heels on a family squall.A ship costs a lot to dress, sometimes blows a bit of smoke, and requires periodic overhauls to extend her useful life.

Some have a cute fantail, others are heavy in the stern, but all have double-bottoms which demand attention. When meeting head-on, sound a recognition signal; whistle! If she does not answer up, come about and start laying alongside, but watch to see if her ship is slowing . . . perhaps her slip is showing? Then proceed with caution until danger of collision is over and you can fathom how much latitude she will allow.

If she does not remain on an even keel, let things ride, feel your way, and do not cross the line until you determine weather the "do" point is right for a prolonged blast. Get the feel of the helm, stay on the right tact, keep her so, and she will pay off handsomely. If she is in the roaring forties, however, you may be in the dangerous semi-circle, so do not expect much "luff," especially under bare poles. She may think you are not under command or control and shove off.

If she edges aweigh, keep her steady as she goes, but do not sink into the doldrums. Just remember that "to furnish a ship requireth much trouble, but to furnish a woman the cost is double!"To the women who now help us "man" our ships, my apologies for the foregoing. Only the opening phrase presents my true feelings. After all, a ship's bell(e) will always remain her most prized possession, and every good ship has a heart, just like yours.

A trick at the wheel, like you, would have been welcome aboard when I was on "she" duty for 40 years. May God bless you all, sweetheart!

Admiral Foley is a long-time contributor to Naval History and the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland.

Good Point! At Naval History's editorial offices, in the presence of the author, the editor reacted to the above with a resounding: "Most of our readers will love it; the women will hate it!" Coincidentally, the U.S. Naval Institute's chief financial officer, obviously sensitive to such statements, overheard and inquired: "The women will hate what?" She then heard of plans to publish "Why We Call a Ship a She." Unaware of the author's presence, she asked: "If they call ships she, then why do they name them Arleigh Burke?"

To that, Admiral Foley responded, "Good point!"

Russell Crane began his naval career as a Junior Recruit at HMAS LEEUWIN in 1970.
Following selection for officer training in 1972, he began training as a Seaman Officer serving in numerous RAN establishments and ships including HMA Ships ANZAC, DUCHESS, SYDNEY, STALWART, and BRISBANE.
He was appointed as Minehunting Control Officer in the Minehunter HMAS CURLEW, in 1978 and promoted to Lieutenant during the same year. In 1983 he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and appointed in command of HMAS CURLEW. Following a period of 2 ½ years in Command, Lieutenant Commander Crane was posted as the Staff Officer Minewarfare to the Commander Australian Minewarfare and Patrol Boat Forces. He was posted to HMAS TORRENS, a Sydney based Destroyer Escort, as the Executive Officer in 1988 and on completion of this appointment was promoted to Commander and posted to the Equipment Acquisition Division in Navy Office Canberra.
In 1993 Commander Crane was posted as Commanding Officer HMAS DERWENT, a Destroyer Escort based in Western Australia. He decommissioned HMAS DERWENT in August 1994 and on completion, returned to Navy Office Canberra for a short period, before being posted as the Director of the Maritime Intelligence Centre in Sydney in late 1994. Commander Crane was promoted to Captain in January 1996 and appointed as the Chief Staff Officer Command and Control, Communications and Intelligence in Maritime Headquarters.
Captain Crane assumed command of HMAS SUCCESS on 24 November 1998. During his period in command SUCCESS conducted a number of deployments to South East Asia. Awarded the Conspicuous Service Medal in early 2000 for his time in HMAS SUCCESS, he was promoted to Commodore in March 2000 and posted to Australian Defence Headquarters in Canberra as the Director General Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare. Commodore Crane was posted as the Commander Australian Naval Systems Command in October 2001. Promoted to Rear Admiral in May 2004 he served as Director General Coastwatch and the inaugural Commander of the newly formed Joint Offshore Protection Command in January 2005. Rear Admiral Crane became the Deputy Chief of Navy in June 2006.

Naval Units of Measurement
These units are neither metric nor imperial but are of a scale that can be precisely understood by the
salt encrusted tar and his long suffering messmates.

Unit Description

2 squirts of catspiss
The exact amount of concern the COXN1 shows you when you advise him you have lost your wallet.

2/5 of 5/8 of the square root of FA
The formula used by DEFPAY2 to calculate pay increases after tax.

The time it takes to get to the front of any queue.

Bee's dick
The difference between the length of the piece of shoring3 you have cut too short and the actual distance it needs to stretch. This is only discovered after an enormous amount of effort has been expended to get the shoring back to where it was needed and just before discovering that there is no more lumber available for shoring.

The amount of ice cream available to the (apparently) vindictive and mean minded cooks who have seemingly singled you out for ice cream starvation.

The number of Chux cloths held by the Bosun's Store which will never be used.

How full your boot bag has become over the course of one deployment.

The amount of misleading information given to you by a Leading Hand4 who thinks he's funny.

Diddley squat
The amount of concern the entire mess feels when the cooks run out of parsley.

The amount of sunscreen which will cover all bare skin and be absorbed without leaving a mess, and which you asked for in the first place.

The size of the piece of equipment you have to fit into a compartment that is smaller than a shoe box.

The amount of experience required prior to discharge.

The approximate amount of ice cream the guy in front of you has been given by the cooks.

A point on an open-ended scale used to judge how good a run ashore was which lies roughly between GREAT and BRILLIANT.

The size of the bouncer you just called a "brainless shit head" for not letting you into the club/pub (he claims you are too inebriated) and who intends to discuss it with you in the car park.

The amount of physical effort required to turn off the lights when you leave a compartment which is, amazingly, too much to expend.

A "new age" expression which indicates an exceptional run ashore where we had a great time, but just can't remember the details right now.

The temperature has dropped to the stage where you are covered in goosebumps but the QM will still not let you wear your woolley pulley.

Minister for Veterans' Affairs Mailing List.
VA035 Thursday 29 March 2007


Veterans are set to benefit from a significant extension of the time they have to lodge medical treatment travel reimbursement claims, from three to 12 months, the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Bruce Billson said today.
A bill introduced by the Minister will, subject to passage through Parliament, amend Veterans' Affairs legislation to enhance and
streamline administrative procedures, to meet veterans' needs in a more effective and timely manner.
"This change will boost the efficient service we already provide to veterans and their families, and is a result of a very successful
working relationship between my Department, the veteran community and the medical profession," Mr Billson said.
"This will provide further assistance, particularly for elderly veterans to meet lodgement dates. The amendment gives them an extended time period in which to make a claim for travel expenses for the purposes of obtaining medical treatment," he said.
Mr Billson said meeting the needs of the veteran community was the Department's top priority and we are constantly looking for ways to improve and enhance services. Other amendments include the simplification of the recovery arrangements of overpayment of pension due to compensation payments; clarification of the onus of proof for claims for acceptance of liability for
service, injury, disease or death under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 and extension of the conditions under which an injury is considered service-related. Changes to the Veterans' Entitlements assets test will also prevent
unfair outcomes including the double counting of assets in some situations. Mr Billson said the pending legislative amendments will also clarify that Family Assistance Payments are exempt from the Veterans' Entitlements income test. "The nation is forever grateful for the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families and these changes will assist our ability to meet their needs now and in the future."

HMAS Leeuwin 71
This page was last updated: August 17, 2016
Subject: Howard's DELIBERATE ANZAC Discrimination

NOTE This is one page variation of John Graham’s excellent letter for those who prefer a shorter overview media and pollie letter.

Sadly there is now some evidence that the whole “veteran review of DVA and pensions and superannuation indexation is another Howard deception”.

Prime Minister Howard’s DELIBERATE ANZAC Discrimination

We are very angry with John Howard’s contempt and ongoing indifference to our veterans pensions and defence superannuation being deliberately detrimentally eroded and the consequential inequality. His contempt of veterans in this matter causes disadvantage and loss to all veterans quality of life so that our standard of living in retirement is eroded each year. We cannot understand why you personally support his callous indifference and contempt of defence service people and veterans.

We are not a wealthy superannuants. The average defence superannuation payment is $ 2,000 per year less than the Age Pension for couples. We contributed 5.5% of our income, in the first place to the DFRB scheme and then to the replacement DFRDB scheme. Under the DFRB scheme contributions were paid into to an accumulating fund, which were invested to the benefit to the fund. This situation is also true for current ADF members of the MSBS.

Our anger and revulsion towards Howard and your contempt and indifference towards us is simply:

As a veteran pensioners and or defence superannuants, our standard of living has continuously suffered by the use of the CPI to index our superannuation and DVA pensions, despite two Senate Committees recommending a change to a wage-based index for Commonwealth and Defence Superannuation and Disability Pensions.

Gary Nairn and Bruce Billson to their credit attempted to overturn this inequality at a party meeting in 2004; they were also ignored by Howard and your veteran contemptuous fellows. Howard’s refusal to change the way our pensions and superannuation is indexed is deliberately and contemptuously unfair reflecting his perceived electoral arrogance towards “discarded veteran battlers”.

Why does Howard insist that Public Sector superannuants are the only Commonwealth beneficiaries whose benefits are indexed using the CPI when all others receive pensions and superannuants are indexed using the MTAWE or CPI, whichever the greater? As is your own parliamentary superannuation and salary. 

     Do you and Howard really believe that you deserve fairness and we deserve unfairness?

It is most insulting and degrading and belittling for us to receive letters from conservative MPs who vainly and contemptuously attempt to justify and mislead and lie as the reasons why the Government will not stop our standard of living from being eroded or why we cannot receive the full benefits of the Simpler Superannuation legislation.

You and Howard and we know that the “the Howard party line is a deliberate lie”.

Howard has deliberately misrepresented the case of defence superannuants in regard to the Simpler Superannuation legislation. The evidence that Howard and Costello were lied to by Comsuper and Treasury regarding the DFRB, and its succeeding fund is now beyond refute. If you don’t know that, why not?

Defence superannuants were/are able to commute part of their future benefits, and accept a reduced fortnightly superannuation benefit based on a life table of 1960. There is no provision for reversion to the full value of an individual’ benefit, once the commutation had been repaid for example. If the member’s life expectancy was 70, and they lived to 77, they continued to overpay $238.00 per fortnight for seven years.

It's a bit like a bank being able to continue charging your account with mortgage payments after the mortgage has been discharged. Why does your superannuation legislation ensure this injustice does not apply to you?

Why do you and Howard deliberately disadvantage current career ADF service people compared to your own superannuation scheme? This perceived inequality is a significant factor in the current and foreseeable recruiting and retention crisis.  

Why do you tolerate Howard’s deliberate shabby treatment of the ADF and AFP and Veterans handed out to them over the past 11 years, knowing his contempt ensures that they will continue to fall behind in their retirement incomes and their service caused quality of life limitation?

You and John Howard are the direct addressees here and the cc’s are the “veteran baggy arse’s” network communicators to our veteran force of the pollster’s estimated 2 million veterans and our families. The public service superannuants and their equal numbers electoral network have not linked up with us yet. The deliberate and discriminatory Howard contempt of inequality addressed above, applies equally to them. I suggest that your reply should be to all the veteran communicators making clear your position on this. You either support Howard’s Veteran discrimination or you support veterans?

Are you aware that as part of Howard’s keep disabled veterans at home, is much cheaper than hospital, you guys endorse his payment the grand sum of $6.28 per hour for our full time carers, essentially our partners, do you feel proud of your achievements if you see us go by on ANZAC Day in wheelchairs, walking aids, volunteer cars and most “wobble” down the route. Have you wondered who looks after us when you are doing whatever you do?

Have any of you considered that gold card access for veteran partner carers would be a reasonable cracker for veterans?


All Australian ex-service men and women who depend on military superannuation are about to be advised that their anticipated half-yearly pension increase will not happen.
• Defence widows will receive the same advice.

• The “notional” superannuation funds of service personnel, who have retired but not reached preservation age, will also not be increased.

How can such a state of affairs be allowed to happen?  The answer is easy: military superannuation is increased with the CPI, and as it is measured, the CPI did not increase between September 2006 and March 2007 and so military, like public service pensions, will not increase on 1 July.  Yet it will be impossible to convince any of the aforementioned groups of people that their cost of living has not increased over the past six months !

This situation is patently unfair. It has been obvious for many years that the CPI does not reflect the true cost of living nor does it ensure the maintenance of living standards.  The Government acknowledges this – for example, many other Government funded pensions such as the Age Pension, War Service Pension, War Widow’s Pension and TPI Pension have been indexed to Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE) from as far back as 1997 and this method of indexation has been twice supported by the Senate Select Committee on Superannuation and Financial Services.

When changing the indexation of the Age and War Service Pensions from CPI to the higher of CPI and MTAWE, the Government proudly announced that this change would allow older Australians to enjoy the benefits of Australia’s improving standard of living. 

The RDFWA and other ex-service organisations have lobbied since 1997 to have military superannuation indexed in the same way as the Age and War Service Pensions.  The response from Government has been that the cost would be prohibitive. If that’s the case, why wasn’t it prohibitive for the other Government pensions and why is the ex-service community being discriminated against?  The fact is that Government claims about the cost of changing indexation have been grossly exaggerated.  Ministers have repeatedly stated that to change the indexation of military superannuation would cost $500 million per year whereas the true cost is $18 million in the first year, eventually rising to $500 million after 17 years.

Over time, the effect on military superannuants is dramatic.  Over the last 17 years the average annual increase in CPI has been 2.7% whilst MTAWE has increased by 4.2% pa. To put this issue into perspective, since June 1997 the Age and Service pensions have risen 51%, military superannuation pensions have risen 30% and parliamentary pensions have risen 55%.  Put another way a military pension of $20,000 at June 1997 is now worth $25,880 whereas if it had been indexed the same as the Age Pension it would be worth  $30,180. The difference this year is $82 per week, whilst the cumulative loss exceeds $16,000.

The RDFWA has welcomed the opportunity to make submissions to, and meet with the Military Superannuation Review Team that is about to report its findings.  The Government stipulated that the overriding guiding principle for the review was that military superannuation should reflect the ‘unique nature of military service’.  It is hard to see how that guiding principle is satisfied if military superannuation continues to be indexed at a lower rate than Centrelink pensions and we are naturally fearful that any recommendations by the Review Team to change indexation will be ignored, in the same way as recommendations made by Senate Select Committees have twice been ignored.

With regard to the Simpler Superannuation rules that come into force on 1 July, approximately 60% of military superannuants receive less than $20,000 pa and will therefore derive little or no benefit from the 10% tax offset.  Military superannuants and other Australians receiving superannuation pensions from ‘untaxed’ funds will also be disadvantaged in the tax treatment of other income, which will be added to their superannuation income and then taxed at their marginal rate.

Further information can be obtained from RDFWA Vice President – Retirement Benefits, Bryan Wilson, on 02 9416 9947.

Please Pass Urgently to all Advocates and Affected Veterans!

It is apparent that John Tilbrook (and other "so called" Military Researchers) will be facing Criminal Charges in Queensland after the completion of a QLD Office of Fair Trading Investigation!
Note Well - As Wheels' mentions below "ALL" State Laws" for Private Investigators are extremely similar (if not exactly the same) as the Laws in Queensland!

It is of the utmost importance that complaints to the DVA about this subject are made in absolutely every state and territory, in fact wherever Tilbrook and his henchmen have used their poisoned pen
against the Noble and Deserving Veteran, as soon as practically possible.

It is also of the utmost importance that wherever a Veteran has committed suicide or inflicted self harm of any form, that was contributed to, in any way, by this utter Judas and his Mates, be finally allowed JUSTICE.

This Writeway Mob have been used by the Department of Veterans Affairs for many years now to continually and illegally reject the claims for help of our honest Australian Veterans and it is strongly
suggested to Minister Bilson that his Department URGENTLY Review ALL Claims not just "cop out" by reviewing only those of Queensland, IMMEDIATELY! (You can no longer make pathetic excuses blaming your staff and ignoring the law).

Very well done and many, many thanks to Graham Wheeler, JP, (C.DEC), Many thanks to Rod Hilton and many thanks to our future (hopefully) Minister Alan!

P.S. for Wheels - I can not thank you enough!

Please see below and attached!

Many Regards

National Coordinator
The Sea of Orange

United we Stand

Tel: (08) 8277 2069

-----Original Message-----
From: Grahame Wheeler [ mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Monday, 4 June 2007 6:33 PM
To: Paul Dignon
Subject: Questions and Answers Senate Estimates

Paul, the attached is part of a transcript from DVA's answers to some of the questions posed to them by Senator Hurley during Estimates in the Senate.

Of extreme interest is that DVA has revealed that the Queensland Office of Fair Trading (OFT) will shortly commence legal action against Writeway, and that would mean John Tilbrook and others
for being unlicensed Private Investigators in Queensland.

I will be making a submission to Bruce Billson arguing that under the circumstances all Writeway reports should be excluded from DVA evidence in all current matters and those before the VRB and the

In matters where veterans feel they have been dudded by Writeway, those veterans and their advocates should protest strongly to the Minister as the legal action above is restricted only to
Queensland. This is the situation even though all states except the ACT have similar acts which may well require Writeway to be licensed in those states. (except the ACT)

I will again be asking the Minister the identity of the Alphabet Officers, Major B, Col C or whoever, mentioned in your reports, whom DVA rely on in the determination of your claim and no doubt the claims of many other veterans.

I suggest you make the above widely available to your mailing list, especially your media contacts.

I will keep in touch.

cheers Grahame Wheeler
Hervey Bay Q

Dear All,

Graham Edwards is the only member of the Federal Parliament who is a war veteran.

Most will know Graham is a Vietnam veteran and that he lost both legs on a mine in southern Phuoc Tuy Province.

Graham has been a tireless advocate for veterans, often in the face of an ignorant and disinterested Parliament.

Graham is a member of the Labor Party, but I suggest his speech which is attached below has nothing to do with party politics.

As he has so often done, Graham speaks plainly on behalf of veterans without political advantage in mind.

I particularly commend this speech of Graham’s to you.

It is worth reading.


Tim McCombe
National President
Vietnam Veterans Federation of Australia
[email protected]


Second Reading
Mr EDWARDS (Cowan) (11.37 a.m.)—The issues I want to talk about in relation to the Veterans’ Affairs Legislation Amendment (2007 Measures No. 1) Bill 2007 go in some part to the administration of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. My comments will also touch on the issue raised by the previous speaker about the fact that some people have to jump through hoops for a lot of government departments. I want to talk about some of the problems arising in the veterans community because of the multitude of agencies they have to confront.

I want to begin by referring to an article in the Daily Telegraph written by Ian McPhedran, a person who takes a strong interest in defence and veterans issues. This article was published on 2 May. I am not going to quote it all, but I want to quote some of it. The article begins by saying:

According to Veterans Affairs Minister Bruce Billson and some self-proclaimed armchair experts, there is an “industry” feeding off mentally-ill Australian war veterans.

This is a bit rich at a time when the Department of Veterans Affairs is spending record amounts of taxpayer dollars fighting the compensation claims of veterans.

The article goes on to say:
Even more disturbing is the fact that Mr Billson jumped on the bandwagon. Fresh from crying crocodile tears for veterans on ABC TV, Mr Billson whinged about aggressive legal firms sourcing potential veteran clients.

Just so the facts don’t get in the way of a good story, Mr Billson would also know that legal firms have opted out of veterans work because they can’t afford the pro-bono effort required to combat a litigious Department of Veterans Affairs with a bottomless bucket of taxpayer dollars.

That department spent $5 million on private lawyers two years ago to fight veterans in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and has devoted $600,000 to a pilot program for using private law firms inside the DVA.

I also keep a fairly close eye on the emails that fly around the veteran community. A bloke that I have had a bit to do with over the years and for whom I have a lot of respect recently sent some emails to the minister and received a response from him. This is Normie Rowe, who is a very high-profile and well-known veteran. In one of the emails, Normie wrote:

But you know Bruce comparing our repat system with others doesn’t do it for me, what would do it for me is if instead of trying to find ways of winding it down, Government saw it as important to pro-actively look for ways of making compensation accessible to those who deserve it.

Get rid of Writeways, they just muddy the water, and have access to files and documents a private company shouldn’t have access to and that don’t even have anything to do with the matter they are supposed to be “researching”.

And then it would be a great step forward [if] Veterans were treated the same way upon return as they are sucked up to when they are sent off to war.

There is another email from Normie that I want to quote in part because it is pertinent to what I say here. He wrote:
... but if while I’m still alive diggers who deserve to be looked after are looked after, and don’t have to fight for justice until they commit suicide, then I’ll vote for and encourage others to vote for the party/ies who will save those lives. And will justly compensate diggers not sell them out.

Those comments lead into what I want to talk about today, which also includes the impact on veterans who have to deal with multi-agencies. I refer to a letter which is part of a report from a consulting psychiatrist. They were asked to do a report on a veteran who had returned from Afghanistan, who had been discharged from the Army and who has tragically committed suicide.

In quoting from this report I call on the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to look at their administration and at the way they are dealing with young men and women. It really worries me, as a veteran, that within the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, within Defence, within government and within this parliament there appears to be a complete lack of understanding of post-traumatic stress, a complete lack of understanding of the impact on young men and women of the conditions they confront in a theatre of war and a complete lack of understanding of the trauma and the memory that those young men and women bring home with them. Trauma does not come about only as a result of action or confrontation with the enemy; it can come about from a whole range of things. It can come about from having to be constantly prepared, constantly on edge, for combat. It can come about from being constantly on the alert, constantly aware of what is happening around you and constantly prepared to immediately defend yourself. Fear and the concept of fear have a lot to do with post-traumatic stress disorder. In my view, it is not just about the actual combat. Perhaps it will become more apparent as I quote from the letter. The psychiatrist, in his general comments about the young man whom he had been asked to assess, wrote:

Although somewhat better rapport was established toward the end of the interview—
was clearly reluctant to volunteer information during the assessment. Part of this appeared to be based on anger, frustration and irritation at repeated medical assessments and interviews, part I think is related to significant residual depression and anxiety symptoms in an individual who has been severely traumatised by his past experiences.

… … …
It does appear that the diagnosis that led to his discharge on medical grounds was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It also appears that, in parallel with this diagnosis—

has experienced significant depressive symptoms with suicidal ideation at various points. A third medical condition that is referred to is the presence of Panic Disorder.

The psychiatrist says:
[He] currently feels unable to work. His reasons include an absence of motivation and drive, fear in some situations, his concerns over the impact of a “stress load” and his “state of mind”. It was difficult to obtain more detail than the above and he responded with “don’t know” to a number of specific questions.

… … …
He also complains of constant fatigue, marked irritability and a whole range of anxiety symptoms including dread, fear, apprehension and marked avoidance.

The vast majority of these experiences are trigger dependent.
I want to come back to ‘trigger dependent’. The psychiatrist goes on:
Certain smells and noise can trigger these immediately. They are of a fluctuating pattern. He also describes sustained chronic suicidal ideation. He is clear that he has no current intent or plan and feels in control of his self-harm thinking. He also reports a reduction in concentration and attention which he feels then impacts on his short-term memory, which he describes as being reduced.

He also reports day/night reversal of his sleeping pattern, preferring to sleep during the day and being awake at night.

In terms of his mental state assessment, based on this history and examination—
appeared as a—
individual who looked his age and was neatly dressed and well groomed. The assessment was difficult because of his reluctance to speak spontaneously and disclose personal information ...

My assessment was that this difficulty in rapport was not because he was being difficult and deliberately withholding information. Rather, it was because of understandable frustration at having to repeat this process again, on a background of ongoing depressive and anxiety symptoms, many of which are still troubling him at this stage.

In summary—
presents as a—
young man—
in a supportive relationship with a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depressive symptoms, Panic Disorder and stomach pain of unknown aetiology ...

In terms of his fitness for work, at present he is unfit for full-time work or part-time work of any nature. This is because, in addition to significant biological symptoms of depression and anxiety, he continues to have suicidal ideation which is chronic and sustained. It is unlikely that he will return to full-time work or part-time work until these symptoms have ameliorated.

The prescribed impairment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an appropriate description of his retiring impairment. In addition to this however, the presence of depressive symptoms, Panic Disorder and chronic suicidal ideation are also significant impairments.

The consulting psychiatrist went on to say this:
My current opinion is that—
is unable to perform any of these roles given his current mood and mental state. This is because his depressive and anxiety symptoms are still severe. In addition, his chronic suicidal ideation would render the completion of tasks under these roles unlikely. Furthermore, if he attempts to fulfil these roles the potential stress associated with this attempt may exacerbate his existing depressive symptoms and put him at higher risk of suicide.

Any veteran who has gone through the system, through the mill, and has had to jump through hoops and over obstacles will relate intimately to what I have just read into the Hansard because they know as veterans; they have had to do it themselves and they have had to confront these issues.

I spoke about how the vast majority of these experiences are ‘trigger dependent’. I know things about post-traumatic stress disorder and I am no expert. I worked in the Vietnam veterans counselling service when we set it up in Perth. I have spoken to many veterans over many years. I am no expert on post-traumatic stress disorder but I know that a veteran can be perfectly fine for a period of time, then something will happen, a trigger will be pulled somewhere, and the veteran will fall into the worst patterns of post-traumatic stress disorder.

When veterans are forced to deal with multiagencies it is no wonder that their situation, their symptoms and their general health can deteriorate. It certainly happened in this case and, unfortunately, the suicide of this young man was not in isolation. One veterans organisation tells me that in the last 12 or 18 months or so there have been five suicides that it is aware of. All were people who were dealing with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. For younger veterans, their dealings with the department are not made easier by having to deal with multiagencies. It is something that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the government and the minister must deal with. They must look at the situation which confronts the digger after they have been to war, been deployed and come home and after they have to deal with these issues.

This young man that I have spoken about was not put in the T&PI. They did not recognise the extent of his post-traumatic stress disorder. They put him in what is known as a T&TI, temporarily and totally incapacitated, which meant that the onus would have been on him to continue to fight the department, continue to go through assessment and continue to make himself available for those assessments. And who knows what triggered his suicide?

It is a tragic reminder of the impact of war, of deployment on young men and women. It is also true to say—in my view anyway—that it is not just deployment to a war zone that can cause post-traumatic stress disorder. When we send young men and women overseas on peacekeeping or peacemaking deployments we also run the risk of them contracting or coming back with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is real. In many ways as a veteran, I have been fortunate. I sit in a wheelchair. People can see my injuries. They are very obvious. I have never had to fight to have them recognised. I have had to fight with the department on a number of occasions, however, over other issues. But someone who comes home from a deployment who has post-traumatic stress disorder has a wound which is not as readily identifiable as mine or those of others in similar circumstances. Because of that, there is a tendency by some people in the department and in government to disbelieve the individual making the claim. I have no doubt that from time to time there are those who will try to use the system to their own advantage, but we cannot and should not penalise genuine individuals like this young man who I have spoken about today. We must give them the benefit of the doubt.

We must understand that post-traumatic stress disorder, having been better identified in recent decades, is a real problem for young soldiers, young men and women. We have to do better as a nation and as a government, and our departments who we charge with dealing with these veterans have to do better in the way they are handling these young men and women who present. I think much of that responsibility comes back to us in parliament. I am not convinced that the military compensation laws that went through this place a couple of years ago—and I said this at the time—act in the best interests of young men and women seeking compensation. We certainly have to look at the problem of multiagencies, and we have to stop making young men and women, like this young fellow who tragically committed suicide, jump through the hoops and have to front for continual and constant assessment. We have to do better than that. If we do not, we are going to experience, tragically, suicide within our veteran community.

Having said that, there is one matter I very quickly want to turn to. I want to compliment the minister on the support that he gave to the Operation Aussies Home blokes in Vietnam, Jim Bourke and his team, who have been fighting tenaciously for a long period of time to identify, and have fully accounted for, the six MIAs in Vietnam. I had the opportunity to go to the handover the other day of the remains of the two young 1RAR soldiers. It was very sombre, sad and humbling to be there for that handover. I congratulate Jim Bourke, his team and the government team that were sent up there, and I congratulate the minister on the support he gave them. They have all done very, very well. My thoughts particularly on that occasion went out to the family. It must be important for them to have the closure that they now have because of the work of Jim Bourke and his team.

All replies, queries etc to:     BRIGADIER (retired) Neil Weekes AM MC
                                               Phone 07 4773 6932

I spoke to BRIG Weeks on the morning of Monday 9 July 2007, he had just returned from an overseas visit, and he authorised me to on-forward the attached letter to all and sundry for information.

To All Parliamentarians
Cc All Veteran Networks
Bcc All Veterans, All Media, All Public Service Superannuants

From General Neil Weekes, AM MC
To Prime Minister John Howard

KIRWAN   QLD   4817
16 June 2007

The Honourable John Howard, MP
Prime Minister of Australia
Parliament House

Dear Prime Minister,

In 1967 I was called up for National Service and subsequently served in South Vietnam .  I was honoured to serve my country, as deemed necessary by the Federal Government.  Unfortunately I could not return to my chosen profession of teaching, due to the effects of my overseas service, so I decided to remain in the Regular Army, serving for a further 24 years, followed by an additional three years in the Army Reserve.  I have no regrets about this as I always thought, rightly or wrongly, that the Government of the day would look after its Service personnel and its veterans.

I have become aware of a growing discontent within the veteran community regarding the ongoing erosion of veterans’ benefits and the adverse impact this is having on their standard of living and their quality of life.  While I would not normally write to you, or to your Ministers, I had the honour of serving with and commanding many of these fine young Australians on active service, and I believe it is incumbent on me to raise three important issues with you.

Firstly, contrary to the recent statement by the National President of the Returned and Service League of Australia to the effect that, “most TPI recipients are doing very well”, I can assure you that those veterans who receive the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated compensation without any other source of income are definitely not doing very well.  The average Defence superannuation payment is approximately $2,000.00 less than the Age pension for couples.  Unfortunately TPI payments continue to be indexed to the CPI and not to the MTAWE, despite the recommendations of two Senate Committees that Commonwealth and Defence Superannuation and Disability Pensions should be changed to a wage-based index.  While the Government’s announcement, in this year’s budget, to increase the TPI payments was appreciated by all veterans, this increase will be quickly eroded as 40% of the TPI will remain indexed on the CPI.  As recommended by the two Senate Committees, there is a need to reconsider indexing the entire TPI compensation to the MTAWE.  I readily acknowledge that this would incur an additional cost for the Government. 

However, veterans were prepared, and expected by Government, to give their all, including their very lives if necessary, to achieve the Government’s objectives.  Surely this puts them into a special category, even separate from the Public Service, that deserves special consideration.  In my capacity as Patron of several ex-Service organisations, I am unable to explain why Public Sector superannuants are the only Commonwealth beneficiaries who have their benefits indexed against the CPI and not the MTAWE or CPI whichever is the greater.  The veteran community is aware of the fact that Parliamentarians have their superannuation indexed on the current remuneration of a back bencher.  This inequity is causing a great deal of angst with the veterans.

Secondly, veterans are also concerned with the Government’s decision to continue to tax DFRB and DFRDB pensions, albeit at a reduced rate, while all other people over 60 years of age will pay no tax at all.  The Government’s own advertisement on this matter states that all pensioners, “… have earned it”.  That implies that veterans have not earned this right.  I have been informed, by a reliable source, that the information provided to Government by COMSUPER regarding DFRB/DFRDB was totally incorrect.  Indeed I have sighted an email from Mr Paul Morrow, Military Legal and Compliance of COMSUPER, dated 10 May 2007, confirming that some information provided may not have been completely accurate.  I trust that the correct information has since been conveyed to the Simpler Superannuation Review Team.

My last point concerns those veterans who commuted part of their future DFRB/DFRDB benefits, based on their calculated last four years of average salary, and consequently had their pension payment reduced.  The amount of reduction was based on the 1960 life expectancy table. Veterans who have lived beyond their estimated life expectancy, should have the original value of their pension reinstated.  Unfortunately this does not occur and this has a severe impact on a veteran’s income.  For example there is a veteran who commuted but has lived seven years beyond his life expectancy of 70.  It has been calculated that, assuming that his commuted amount had been repaid by his 70th birthday, his pension should have been increased by $238.00 per fortnight after that. This equates to approximately $43,000.00 which would make an enormous difference to this veteran’s quality of life.  There are many veterans in this predicament.  I understand that there is no legislation that provides for the reversion of a veteran’s pension to its original value after the commuted amount has been repaid.  Nor is there any legislation that precludes this.  I also understand that, pre-2004, Parliamentarians who had commuted their pension, did have their pensions reverted to the original value once the commuted amount had been repaid.  If this is the case then veterans have been severely disadvantaged.

Prime Minister, I do not write letters without good reason and I reiterate that my main concern is for the welfare of veterans who have given so much of themselves and their families to Australia and its people.  There is growing disquiet within the veteran community that their quality of life is being eroded.  I simply request that your responsible Ministers ensure that these three issues are fully examined to ensure that veterans are not being disadvantaged when compared to other groups, including politicians.  It goes without saying that the decisions made by your Government today will impact on tomorrow’s recruits and future veterans.

On a more positive note I commend both Mr Peter Lindsay and Mr Bruce Billson, as they have always responded, without delay, to my questions on Jezzine Barracks and other matters.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Weekes, AM MC
Brigadier (Retired
The Demise of Jack Tar......

The traditional male sailor was not defined by his looks. He was defined by his attitude; his name was Jack Tar. He was a happy go lucky sort of a bloke; he took the good times with the bad.
He didnt cry victimisation, bastardisation, discrimination or for his mum when things didnt go his way.
He took responsibility for his own, sometimes, self-destructive actions.

He loved a laugh at anything or anybody. Rank, gender, race, creed or behaviour, it didnt matter to Jack, he would take the piss out of anyone, including himself. If someone took it out of him he didnt get offended; it was a natural part of life. If he offended someone else, so be it. Free from many of the rules of polite society, Jacks manners were somewhat rough. His ability to swear was legendary.

He would stand up for his mates. Jack was extravagant with his support to those he thought needed it. He may have been right or wrong, but that didnt matter. Jacks mate was one of the luckiest people alive.

Jack loved women. He loved to chase them to the ends of the earth and sometimes he even caught one. (Less often than he would have you believe though) His tales of the chase and its conclusion win or lose, is the stuff of legends.

Jacks favourite drink was beer, and he could drink it like a fish. His actions when inebriated would, on occasion, land him in trouble. But, he took it on the chin, did his punishment and then went and did it all again.

Jack loved his job. He took an immense pride in what he did. His radar was always the best in the fleet. His engines always worked better than anyone elses. His eyes could spot a contact before anyone elses and shoot at it first. It was a matter of personal pride. Jack was the consummate professional when he was at work and sober.

He was a bit like a mischievous child. He had a gleam in his eye and a larger than life outlook.
He was as rough as guts. You had to be pig headed and thick skinned to survive. He worked hard and played hard. His masters tut-tutted at some of his more exuberant expressions of joie de vivre, and the occasional bout of number 9s or stoppage of leave let him know where his limits were.

The late 20th Century and on, has seen the demise of Jack. The workplace no longer echoes with ribald comment and bawdy tales. Someone is sure to take offence. Where as, those stories of daring do and ingenuity in the face of adversity, usually whilst pissed, lack the audacity of the past.

A wicked sense of humour is now a liability, rather than a necessity. Jack has been socially engineered out of existence. What was once normal is now offensive. Denting someone elses over inflated opinion of their own self worth is now a crime.

And so a culture dies...  worse luck  !!!!!!!!!!!!


Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Shadow Minister for Defence Science and Personnel



A Rudd Labor Government will increase benefits for all of our nation’s disabled war veterans and war widows – to help with the increased cost of living.

Veterans and their widows are suffering from cost of living increases including huge mortgages and rents, petrol and grocery costs. 

Veterans have sacrificed so much for our nation and they deserve more than having this Government tell them they have never been better off.

A Rudd Labor Government will offer a fairer regime of indexation of these payments by ensuring that all disability and war widows’ compensation payments currently administered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs will be indexed by reference to movements in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE), whichever is greater.

This announcement is a further step by Labor on the road to ensuring that our Veterans and their Widows receive the compensation that they so richly deserve.

In May this year, prior to the Budget, Labor announced that we would index the full amount of the compensation pensions provided to our most severely disabled war veterans to movements in both CPI and MTAWE, whichever is greater. That announcement at the time, and since then, was opposed by the Howard Government and the current Minister, Bruce Billson.

Today’s announcement builds on our earlier commitment.  It will affect the indexation arrangements currently applied to General Rate Disability Pensions and the Domestic Allowance component of the War Widows’ Pension by applying the same indexation arrangements to these payments as currently exists for the Service and Aged Pension.

It is estimated that this announcement, combined with Labor’s announcement earlier this year will affect nearly 140,000 disabled war veterans. 

They include those who fought and served in conflicts including World War II, Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, the Gulf War, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.

We are already seeing veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan needing assistance. As of June 2007, 141 soldiers who served in Afghanistan and 65 from Iraq will be affected by Federal Labor’s announcement. 

In addition today’s announcement will also affect more than 110,000 war widows. The Howard Government has steadfastly refused to index the domestic component of the War Widows Pension over a long period of time, despite the Clarke Report in 2004 making the recommendation to do so.

In contrast to the Government’s inaction in this area, Labor is committed to ensuring that these compensation payments to our Veterans and War Widows retain their value over time.

Our veterans and their widows have paid a very high price for their service to our country. This is about fixing an injustice.

We have listened to our nation’s veterans and their widows and we have responded to their concerns.

Labor’s announcements will take place in the very first Budget set by a Rudd Labor Government.  The first day of indexation after that budget will be September 20, 2008.

Today’s $55m announcement (over the forward estimates) builds on our prior commitment to indexation of above general rate pensions.

Mr Rudd is due to address the National Congress of the RSL on the night of Tuesday 11 September 2007 and will further outline these announcements.

Labor has also already committed to a comprehensive package of mental health initiatives, increased suicide prevention measures, a study into the health of Children of Vietnam Veterans and a working group to reduce the administrative burden faced by the ex-service community. 


Rod Hilton (Griffin)                    0403 831 179

Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2007 21:24:20 +1000


Veterans will receive an increase in their pensions of up to $18.60 per fortnight, the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Bruce Billson, announced today.

Mr Billson said veterans' pensions, including service pension, war widow's pension and disability pensions, will increase from 20 September 2007.

"This pension rise is consistent with the Australian Government's commitment to protecting the living standards of veterans and their
families, and supporting their welfare," Mr Billson said.

"From 20 September 2007, the Special (T&PI) rate of disability pension will increase by $18.60 to $938.00 per fortnight, while the
Intermediate rate of disability pension will increase by $11.40 to $631.20.

"Extreme Disablement Adjustment will increase to $495.40 per fortnight and the 100 per cent General Rate of disability pension will
increase to $322.80.

"The maximum rate of single service pension will rise by $12.60 to $537.70 per fortnight and the maximum rate for couples will
increase by $10.60 to $449.10 each.

"The fortnightly pension paid to war widows will increase by $12.60 to $562.70, while the ceiling rate of the income support supplement,
which is paid to more than 84,000 war widows, will rise to $160.40."

Rates have also increased for benefits under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act (MRCA). The MRCA widowed partner's death
benefit is paid at the same rate as the war widow's pension, while MRCA Special Rate Disability pensioners receive the same payments as Special
(T&PI) rate pensioners.

More information on the new pension rates is available from the Department of Veterans' Affairs on 133 254 or at
Media Release

29 August 2007

Extended Travel Concessions for the Ghan Railway

In response to strong representations from David Tollner MP, Federal Member for Solomon, the Australian Government will provide additional funding to allow pensioners and veterans to access concessional fares on the Alice Springs to Darwin section of world famous Ghan railway.

This initiative will make travel on the Ghan more affordable for about 10,000 pensioners and veterans.  It will provide around $1.5 million of additional concessions for travel each year. 

Through initiatives such as the Seniors Concession Allowance and the Utilities Allowance, the Australian Government is helping senior Australians with concessions. The state Labor governments are eroding concessions and failing to provide uniform reciprocal travel concessions - despite these being largely state responsibilities. 

The Australian Government already funds concessional rail fares on a number of rail lines that used to be part of the Australian National Railway, including the Adelaide to Alice Springs section of the Ghan.  The Government also provides funding that allows concessional travel for holders of a Seniors Health Card on the Great Southern Railway network. 

Funding will now be provided to Great Southern Railway through a variation to the existing contractual arrangements to extend the concessional travel arrangements to the Alice Springs to Darwin section of the Ghan. 

The Commonwealth is disappointed that the Northern Territory Government has failed to meet its obligation to provide concessional travel on long distance rail services within its own borders. 

The Australian Government's initiative will provide valuable savings to pensioners and veterans travelling on the Ghan and provide a significant boost in tourist activity to the Northern Territory.  This boost in tourism will also help in delivering more employment opportunities for indigenous Australians, an important element in breaking welfare cycles in the Northern Territory over the longer term. 

I thank Dave Tollner MP for his advocacy on behalf of the people of the Northern Territory.  His efforts played a large part in delivering this initiative.

An all crews reunion for ex members of


is planned for

8th to 10th May 2009

in Hobart.

For further information contact either

Graham Halton - [email protected]


Mark Triffett - [email protected]
Dear Honourable Members of Parliament and Ms McNamara

Now that a Federal Election is looming I thought I would take this opportunity to express my disappointment in the lack of action from both sides of government in correcting the abnormalities of DFRB/DFDRB and the consequences to its recipients. After reading some of the correspondence relating to this subject (attached) I find it incomprehensible why the government does not take the appropriate action to correct these abnormalities and the same way you all conveniently approve your pay rises and linking your pensions to Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE).

How come a Defence Force Member, whether a Veteran or not be treated as a second class citizen. After volunteering to join the Defence Force, serving their country in peacetime, times of disaster, peace keeping and ultimately in combat. They give up their right to a normal way of life for themselves and their families to carry out the bidding of the serving government.

In regards to the following, it is nothing less than a mortal sin to reward these people with contempt you have and you all should be ashamed of telling yourselves that you represent us in parliament.

1.  Not aligning the DFRB/DFRDB with MTAWE whilst other pensions including Parliamentarians are.
2.  Not reverting DFRB/DFRDB to full value after a members life expectancy has been exceeded and the commutation repaid in full.
(how many other ways can you rob us - easy see next point)
3.  Not allowing DFRB/DFRDB to qualify for the new superannuation rules that will apply to everyone else including politicians.

I could never understand that as a member of the Defence Force we had to do 20 years for a pension and a politician only had to do seven years; that members of the Defence Force had to have their superannuation aligned with rest of Australian work force but not the politicians.

It is not a free benefit, we paid taxes on contributions, then again when we retired then ongoing income tax whilst receiving it, also we had to work long, hard and made many sacrifices to qualify for it.

The attached e-mails have been doing the rounds individually, all the Defence Force Associations/Organisations and are a hot issue with their members. I along with others receiving the DFRB/DFRDB will be voting for the party who is willing to take action to correct these abnormalities and bring us in line with rest of the citizens of Australia (though I doubt we would ever catch up with the politicians).

Remember what is good for the goose and good for the gander.

Stephen O'Rourke
VOTER - Ex Defence Force Member - DFRDB recipient

1 Violin Place
Arana Hills QLD 4054
Ph: 07 33514160


Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2007 17:07:53 +1000


An enhanced online Nominal Roll of Vietnam Veterans with more information and improved search features is being launched tomorrow by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Bruce Billson. > The Roll replaces an interim roll that had been on the Internet for some time. > Mr Billson said it was appropriate to launch the enhanced Roll––––thisSaturday, Vietnam Veterans’ Day. > “On Vietnam Veterans’ Day we honour the more than 60,000 Australians deployed to Vietnam and the 520 who were lost to us forever,” he said. “I urge all Australians to stop and remember the service and sacrifice of our Vietnam veterans.” > Mr Billson said work on the enhanced Roll had been a significant undertaking by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “My Department has manually checked around 61,000 service records and thousands of other service-related documents from different states, territories and government agencies to further develop the Roll,” he said. > “The enhanced Roll can be searched by service number and name, by unit name, dates of service in Vietnam as well as date of birth, place of birth, and Honours and Awards received. > “Users can print a Certificate of Service for each veteran and view a photo of each of the 520 official commemorations of those who died in the Vietnam War.” > Mr Billson said it was possible that some details for about 1500 veterans may not be complete, although each of these veterans was on the Nominal Roll. “We have around 97 per cent of the details completed and the remainder will be progressively included,” Mr Billson said. > “Every effort has been made to ensure the data on the Roll is correct, but this has been a complex undertaking and if veterans find errors they should also contact the Department so they can be corrected.” > In publishing this Nominal Roll, the Department has honoured previous undertakings given to veterans who wished their entry to be suppressed or partially suppressed. Other veterans who do not wish to have their details displayed on the website can request, in writing, that some, or all, of those details not be included by contacting the Nominal Rolls Team via email at [email protected] or by calling 1300 780 133 (local call charge). > Mr Billson encouraged Australians to reflect on the contribution and sacrifice of Vietnam veterans during Vietnam Veterans’ Day commemorations. > “This date was chosen to commemorate Vietnam Veterans’ Day because it was the date of one of Australia’s most costly victories of the Vietnam War, the Battle of Long Tan. > “On 18 August 1966, Australian soldiers from D Company 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, encountered the leading elements of an enemy force that was about 3000-strong in a rubber plantation north of the village of Long Tan,” Mr Billson said. > “Outnumbered by at least ten to one, but supported by the artillery of the 1st Australian Task Force, the Australians held firm with a remarkable display of courage and determination until a relief force arrived. During that fateful battle, 18 Australians lost their lives and 24 others were wounded, while around 245 North Vietnamese died, with as many as 500 wounded. > “Tomorrow, we remember all those who paid the ultimate price in that conflict and we thank the veterans who came home, having served their country.”  Media inquiries: Cameron Hill 0408 239 521

Military Superannuation Site