Veterans Support Act passes
The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association welcomes the passage of the Veterans Support Act into law tonight.
RSA National President, Don McIver, says that while it has taken a long time to get to this point, and there is disappointment that not all veterans will benefit as hoped, it is an important milestone in the commitment of the nation to the recognition and support of those who have been prepared to put their life in harm’s way for their country.
“The new Act replaces the 60 year old 1954 War Pensions Act and has been in gestation since 2006 when the Government recognised the need in the MOU it signed with the RSA and Vietnam Veterans. It is a complex Act involving two schemes, one for pre and one for post 1974 veterans,” explains National President Don McIver.
“It will fill a crying need for modern and relevant law and operating procedures, and should overcome some of the persistent issues which have concerned veterans in the past. It is our hope that it will provide the basis for efficient, effective and considerate management of support for all veterans and their families with a clear and unequivocal commitment to the principle of benevolence described in the Act. Speedy implementation is important and we will cooperate with Veterans Affairs of New Zealand as they work to put the necessary procedures in place.”
For the RSA there are some disappointments. Amongst them is the Veterans Pension which is the equivalent of National Superannuation and is now to be paid to all who have had qualifying or emergency service. They will lose no benefits after a 13 week hospital stay and will receive the Community Services Card, which the RSA welcomes as good news. But the lump sum payment on death which is part of the Pension will only be available for the spouse/partner or dependent child of a veteran who was assessed to have reached the completely arbitrary threshold of 52% disability. The RSA has long argued that this limitation should be dropped. The Law Commission found similarly.
“We accept that it would involve extra cost but we don’t believe that it is beyond the Government’s financial resources to provide it to the families of all who served the nation, not just those who were disabled in that service. We will pursue this issue,” says Mr McIver.
“The two year review of the Act is an important provision. With new law and procedures of this magnitude inevitably there will be some teething problems and the opportunity to review how it is working in practice is vital.”