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1 year ago
Incoming Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee is the sixth Veterans Affairs’ Minister in eight years under the Liberal-National government. 

It just goes to show this portfolio is not a priority for the Morrison Government, and they are taking our veterans and defence personnel for granted. 

The Nationals’ reshuffle is all about political payback and rewarding supporters and mates, not about serving the interests of current and ex-service men and women.

The reality is Minister Gee is inheriting a veteran support system that is broken and not fit-for-purpose, and he has a very big job ahead of him. 

Firstly, he needs to fix the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) and end the culture of delay, denial and dysfunction within the department. 

The Government has presided over a huge blowout in wait times and a backlog of compensation claims, which has led to dangerous delays and a mental health crisis for veterans trying to access support.

And critically, the Minister will need to oversee the Royal Commission into defence and veteran suicide. 

The Government needs to come up with strong and broad Terms of Reference that look at systemic and institutional factors impacting defence and veteran suicides, and ensure that the voices of veterans and their families are heard. 

Further, they need to appoint Commissioners who are of the right standing and independent from the ADF in order to ensure trust and confidence in this process.

We can’t afford for this to be another whitewash or political fix. 

The Royal Commission is a one in 100-year opportunity to fix our broken veteran support system – to identify problems and solutions, listen to the ideas of veterans, defence personnel and others, and implement changes that will save lives. 

Labor wants to work with the Government to ensure this process delivers enforceable recommendations that will prevent these tragic deaths from happening in the future. 

For this to happen, we are going to need less navel gazing and infighting within the Government, and more leadership and focus on the needs of our veterans and defence personnel.
Veteran Affairs