Payout would help veterans' families

Labour veterans' affairs spokesman Phil Goff speaks to residents and veterans at Montecillo Veterans Home and Hospital yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Labour veterans' affairs spokesman Phil Goff speaks to residents and veterans at Montecillo Veterans Home and Hospital yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
''A small gesture'' of thanks should be paid to all veterans' families for their service, Labour veterans' affairs spokesman Phil Goff says.

He told veterans at Montecillo Veterans Home and Hospital, in Dunedin, and Mosgiel Memorial RSA yesterday he proposed amending the Veterans' Support Bill, now before Parliament, to pay $5700 to all veterans when they die.

''It's not just thank you, but thank you and as a gesture of our thanks you won't have to worry about funeral costs when you pass on.''

The payment would also recognise families' support for veterans who had in many cases returned home from war ''badly damaged''.

The amendment has the support of opposition MPs and the Maori Party but opposition to the amendment by National and United Future will probably see it dumped.

The amendment would have cost $11 million in this year's Budget and $8.4 million in 2017.

Mr Goff believed that it was a ''tiny sum'' to pay to recognise the veterans' service.

Veterans' Affairs Minister Michael Woodhouse said Labour was being ''mealy mouthed'' about the issue and by proposing to raise the pension age to 67 were ''arguing to increase lump sum payments paid to veterans on their death by taking away from entitlements from veterans who are still alive''.

Lump sum payments to veterans who had ''52% disability'' would continue, the Dunedin List MP said.

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