Labor is looking to take the lead on veterans’ affairs.
Labor is looking to take the lead on veterans’ affairs.

Labor pledges better deal for vets

GOVERNMENTS would be forced to disclose every year what they are doing to support Aussie veterans under a new Opposition plan to create Australia's first military covenant.

The covenant, to be signed by a Labor government, would largely be a symbolic expression of support for current and former defence personnel to "recognise the immense commitment of our armed forces to serve their country".

But it is also intended to bring accountability and responsibility for veterans' affairs by forcing future governments to show what they have done to help veterans get jobs, receive timely welfare payments and lower the suicide rate.

The report would have to include details like processing times of Department of Veterans' Affairs payments, waiting times for counselling services, as well as information on what is being done to transition ex-service men and women back into the civilian workforce.

Such reports have been released before, but only on an ad-hoc basis with no legal requirement. Nothing has been released in the past 12 months.

The covenant would be based on the British Armed Services Covenant, which also encourages businesses to sign on and commit to employing ex-servicemen and women as well as offer them deals on products and services.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the idea behind the covenant was to ensure current and former Defence personnel did not "slip through the cracks" of the health and social services on offer.

Meanwhile, Mr Shorten last night wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking him to extend the royal commission into banks to allow to hear from more customers, particularly from regional areas.

"I am asking that you consider providing an opportunity for more victims across the country to give evidence," he wrote.



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