MINISTER for Veterans Affairs Andrew Gee has called out members of his own party after copping criticism from some quarters of The Nationals for threatening to resign from the Morrison Government cabinet on Saturday morning.
The Member for Calare, Mr Gee gathered the press outside his Kite Street office on Saturday morning with the intention of resigning unless his demand for $96 million in funding to clear a backlog over almost 60,000 veterans claims was granted.
According to Mr Gee the intervention of Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce secured the funding but not everyone in the party room was happy.
"This is not about me, it's not about other MPs, it's about helping veterans and ADF personnel and their families," Mr Gee said
"So, to the critics, I would ask this: What have you ever stood up for and what do you stand for now?"
Mr Gee also took a swing at Prime Minister Scott Morrison's claims he did not properly understand how requests for funding were made.
"And, as far as understanding the budget process goes, I fully understand it," Mr Gee said.
"First, they were offering zero dollars to cut the backlog of veterans claims, then it was basically $22.8 million, take it or leave it and I couldn't look veterans in the eye and say I was happy with that. So I took a stand and I stand by everything I said and I stand by everything I did and the result is we got $96 million to cut that 60,000 backlog of veteran and ADF personnel claims. which is really positive and if it helps veterans then I will have done my job."
The Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans' Affairs, Mr Gee was disappointed with the initial allocation of $22.8m to be announced in Tuesday's budget, describing it as "token".
"This is simply not good enough, in fact it is a national disgrace," Mr Gee said.
Mr Gee said The Royal Commission into Defence and Veterans Suicide had highlighted serious problems in the Portfolio of Veterans Affairs that have been building for years, adding the Productivity Commission had also confirmed the current compensation claims processing system was not working in the best interest of veterans and their families.
In the middle of 2021 the backlog was 55,000 claims, in less than a year it has blown out to almost 60,000.
He described the Federal government's initial funding as "kicking the can down the road" and said enough was enough.
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