“As Australians pause to remember the service and sacrifice of our veterans, our political leaders should recognise that many of our ex-servicemen and women still want to make a contribution to our society,” said Daniel Wild, Deputy Executive Director of the Institute of Public Affairs.
On Remembrance Day, as we remember those who have served our nation and the ones they left behind, we should also recognise the great skills of our ex-servicemen and women, and we should commit to removing barriers preventing them from entering work.
“Our leaders must create opportunities by removing the tax and red tape barriers preventing former servicemen and women who want to use their skills and training to make a contribution through paid employment,” said Mr Wild.
Today, a veteran who earns just $226 per week, which is the equivalent to one and a half days of work on the minimum wage, loses 50 cents on the dollar in pension payments, and faces an effective marginal tax rate of 69 per cent.
The Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Supporting the Transition to Work) Bill 2023 is currently before the federal parliament. The Bill makes permanent the minor pension and veteran work bonus limit changes passed late last year but does not nearly go far enough.
“Australia should be following the New Zealand model, where pensioners and veterans do not lose any of their welfare payments should they chose to work, which is why over a quarter of them participate in the labour force,” said Mr Wild.
“It is widely recognised that work is core to social inclusion, integration, self-esteem, and can play a vital role in the overall mental and physical well-being of our ex-servicemen and women.”
“When the Bill is debated next week, it should be amended to go much further to support pensioners and veterans getting back into work. It is a commonsense, no-regrets policy.”
In Australia today, there are close to 400,000 job vacancies across the economy, which is 80 per cent higher than the pre-Covid level, and one-in-five of all businesses cannot find the workers they need.
“Recognising the skills and the experience of our veterans by removing unfair tax and red tape barriers to work is one critical policy step that can be taken easily to help all.