War pension available to more veterans

By Harata Brown
  • Auckland

A Māori veteran who's eligibility for a War Pension was determined by the extent of his disabilities is happy that through the Māori Party's support for the Veterans' Support Bill, the War Pension will now be available to a far greater number of veterans, rather than be limited to those who suffer from significant disabilities.

Labour's Veterans Affairs spokesman says the Bill doesn't do enough to support war veterans who continue to die.   

Under the Bill set to replace the War Pensions Act, all veterans over the age of 65 will be eligible for a war pension, as opposed to just those who are considered significantly disabled. 

Kingi Taurua who served in the Vietnam War in the 1960s says it's good to hear the veterans pension will be paid at the same rate as superannuation, and vets will get community services cards without being income tested.

Although the Māori Party initially supported Labour's spokesman for Veterans Affairs' proposed amendment that would increase the lump sum payment upon a veteran's death, they eventually pulled away.

Phil Goff says this has meant recommendations by the NZ Law Commission and the Returned Services Association have been ignored.  

"Every year delayed sees thousands more veterans who will never get the benefit of the provision that I was recommending, that actually comes from the Law Commission, and from the RSA. The Māori party were duked by the National party, and blackmailed in to saying, if you don't support this now, we will not pass this bill in Parliament" 

The Veterans' Support Bill was introduced by Veterans Affairs Minister Michael Woodhouse last year and was last night introduced to the Select Committee Stage.