On the eve of Anzac Day, the coalition is promising a $63 million package to look after those who have served in Australia’s defence forces.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will unveil the pledge in Darwin, home to more than 5000 defence personnel and their families, where he is campaigning on Wednesday for the first time this election.
He’s also expected to visit US Marines based in Darwin.
Mr Morrison will announce that if re-elected on May 18, the coalition would spend $30 million building veterans’ wellbeing centres in Darwin, Townsville, Adelaide, Perth, Nowra and Wodonga.
The centres would be service hubs integrating government assistance, health services, advocacy and wellbeing support tailored to those who have served.
Another $16.2 million would go to Soldier On, Team Rubicon and RSL state branches for programs to help former servicemen and women find meaningful civilian jobs in their post-military life.
The government will exempt veterans who are totally and permanently incapacitated from a new limit of 12 sessions with allied health providers such as physiotherapists, in a move expected to cost $17 million.
This restriction was due to start on July 1 and allied health workers told a Productivity Commission inquiry the measure was an “archaic” model of care that would have led to people missing out on much-needed treatment.
The government will also make it easier for veterans to access schemes that help them to find a home after their service and get building insurance.
Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester says these are practical measures that veterans want.
“I’ve met with hundreds of veterans this year and listened to their ideas on additional measures the government could take to support veterans in their communities,” he said.
“These are men and women who signed up to the Australian Defence Force prepared to put their lives on the line for our nation so we need to do more to both respect and recognise our returned service men and women.”
At the weekend, Labor promised an extra $118 million in taxpayer cover for veterans’ funeral costs, art therapy programs, upgrades to local war memorials and a Kokoda Trail master plan to conserve the historic wartime trail.
The government is now promising $10 million for local war memorials and another $10 million for commemoration projects in Papua New Guinea.
While in Darwin, Mr Morrison is also expected to talk about what he labels the “economic vandalism” of the NT’s Labor government while offering up some answers to help the local economy grow.
This includes a new requirement that builders tendering for jobs worth at least $7.5 million that are part of a $20 billion investment in Defence facilities in the NT have a plan to hire local workers and use top end suppliers.
He will also promise $4 million of the next round of safer communities grants will be dedicated to the NT for installation of CCTV cameras, bollards, security systems and lighting.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who oversees the grants, says small businesses in the Territory are “facing a crime epidemic”.
Mr Morrison is expected to visit the newly-arrived Marine contingent and announce the rotation will reach its full strength of 2500 by July – ahead of the timeline of 2020 set down by Barack Obama and Julia Gillard, the NT News said.
United States Marine Corps personnel are now arriving in the Northern Territory to commence the eighth rotation of the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin (MRF-D).
Mr Morrison is also expected to make a major health announcement.