Win in veterans' fight for pension payback
RETIRED defence personnel embroiled in a fight over pension payments have claimed a small victory.
Thousands of recipients of the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefit Scheme, which operated from 1972 up to 1991, were this week told there would be an independent inquiry into the administration of the scheme.
The former defence personnel claim the government has wrongly continued to take a portion of their fortnightly pension as repayment for a lump sum payout given upon retirement.
Having previously turned away those campaigning for the retired defence personnel, Federal Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester on Monday confirmed an independent inquiry into the scheme would be commissioned by the Federal Government.
In a statement, Mr Chester said there were differing views regarding the intention of the scheme and the appropriateness of information provided to members at the time.
"The Government recognises the importance of open and transparent discussion around veteran concerns and we will consult with the ex-service community about the terms of reference for the inquiry, as well as panel membership," the statement said.
Many of the affected retirees claim they have repaid their initial lump sum - which was a $20,000 payout in most cases - several times over, despite being told that the deductions would cease once they had reached a nominated life expectancy.
Throughout the process, the government's claim has been that the retirees had simply misunderstood the terms of the lump sum agreement which they had agreed to decades ago.
Ken Stone, a retired wing commander who has helped lead the fight on behalf of former members, said Mr Chester's announcement of an inquiry was, "the best news for DFRDB superannuants in 40 years".
"It is the first time we have been able to break through the political barrier; it is a real milestone," Mr Stone said.
Mr Stone said he believed the superannuants had enough evidence to succeed in the inquiry, but there was an involved process ahead to organise the information in a logical manner.
Mr Chester said ex-service organisations and scheme members would be given the opportunity to make submissions to the inquiry and raise any other concerns relevant to the scheme.
The inquiry is on the agenda for the next Ex-Service Organisation Round Table, to be held on April 2.