ANZAC Day 2014: New Zealand Labour Vows Pension to All Veterans; PM John Key Questions Timing
By Reissa Su | April 24, 2014 5:43 PM EST
New Zealand Labour has promised to give all war veterans pension. Labour Leader David Cunliffe announced at Avondale Returned and Services Association in Auckland that the party will adopt a recommendation by the Law Commission to make veterans eligible for veteran's pension.
Catherine (L), the Duchess of Cambridge, reacts as she greets war veterans after laying a wreath with her husband, Britain's Prince William, at the war memorial in Seymour Square
According to the Work and Income Web site, war veterans who are over 65 years old and have a qualifying rate of disablement are entitled to a pension. Veterans under 65 who served in the war but had become injured or disabled will also be considered for the pension.
Cunliffe said the Labour party is planning to lower the requirement to include the significantly disabled and offer pension to returning service personnel. A Law Commission report in 2012 on the War Pensions Act gave 170 recommendations which includes the call to offer veteran's pension to returning military personnel.
While it was never adopted by the New Zealand government, the former veterans' affairs minister Nathan Guy has announced a pension package for veterans worth $60 million across five years.
Cunliffe had criticised the government for not accepting the recommendation and called its move as "cynical." The Labour leader said the veterans don't have time on their side and he believes "now is the time" to give pensions.
According to reports, Prime Minister John Key was critical of Labour's policy on veteran's pension and questioned its timing a day before ANZAC Day.
The prime minister has previously expressed he was "quite keen" in seeking a fourth term in office, but he was afraid that saying it out loud might "jinx" it. Mr Key said he is focused on the upcoming election, but he doesn't want to think too much of it.
Cunliffe's rival said he doesn't want to get ahead of himself just like the "All Blacks" who thought about the World Cup early on.
Mr Key's National Party has only had one former prime minister who served four terms. Keith Holyoake led New Zealand from 1960 to 1972. He also assumed the position for a few months in 1957.
Mr Key thought it was "notoriously difficult" to win three elections consecutively. He said it was not impossible to win a fourth term, but he wanted to be realistic. Mr Key said he and his team face stiff competition from Labour and the Greens.
The New Zealand election will be on Sept 20. According to polls, the race will be close as the National party leads with a slight margin.
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