An Australian Defence Force soldier, Sydney, Monday, Oct. 15, 2012.
An Australian Defence Force soldier, Sydney, Monday, Oct. 15, 2012. AAP Image - April Fonti

Abbott concedes ground in ADF pay dispute

AUSTRALIAN defence force personnel could have won the battle to overturn their controversial pay deal after it was revealed Prime Minister Tony Abbott had softened his position.

Mr Abbott, who plans to hold talks with Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie on the issue has reportedly told colleagues the 1.5% pay rise offer was the best the government could offer due to the budget deficit.

But he had conceded the decision to also remove personnel's entitlements as part of the deal was unacceptable.

Opposition Defence Minister Senator Stephen Conroy said at the weekend the nation's service men and women should not have to fight the government for decent pay and conditions.

He said it was now up to the government to ensure the personnel received a fair deal.

"Reports suggest that Tony Abbott may back down on some leave entitlements, but is still planning on delivering a real cut in wages to our soldiers, sailors and airmen," he said.

"That is shameful and wrong.

"Funding for a fair pay deal for our service men and women is already in the budget and there is no excuse for the Prime Minister to treat our ADF personnel in this way."

Controversial Senator Jacqui Lambie has previously stated she would block all government attempts to pass legislation in the Senate unless her demands for a better deal were met.

Defence force personnel were offered a 1.5% pay increase per annum earlier this year which is below the current inflation rate.