The Government will, in the next little while, table in the House its response to the Law Commission Report 'A New Scheme for Veterans' encompassing a review of the War Pensions Act 1954.
The Law Commission adopted two fundamental principles as a general policy approach in undertaking the review. They were ....
(1) Veterans are entitled to all of the benefits, allowances and assistance to which every other New Zealander is entitled.
(2) Veterans who have suffered as a result of being put in harm's way deserve to be recompensed over and above the entitlements of ordinary citizens who are not veterans.
Pretty simple really and mirrors the approach taken in similar democracies overseas.
There will be those out there who say yes, but in these times of financial constraint where's the money to fund such largesse?
Fair Question perhaps and the answer is in the Report. Of the 13,935 recipients of War Disablement Pensions (2007 figure) over 99.5% (13,876) attach to service before 1 April 1974 (the introduction of ACC) and of the 13,935 over 50% are WW2 veterans.
The reality is that the veteran community is dying off fast. In ten years time the youngest WW2 veteran will be 92. They will be counted in the 100s. At the other end of the scale the youngest Vietnam veteran will be 68.
The Government can afford to be generous in its response. This is one group of pensioners who are going to 'just fade away'.