The Australian December 18. Rosie Lewis reports
A MILITARY group has slammed the decision to increase the rent of Defence Force personnel by up to 4.2 per cent, declaring it a second hit on top of a below-inflation pay rise.
The announcement has reignited tensions within the defence community, with the Defence Force Welfare Association describing the changes as a "total betrayal" by the Abbott government.
Colonels and higher ranking ADF members, plus their equivalents in the navy and air force, will have to pay 4.2 per cent extra rent each fortnight — nearly triple the 1.5 per cent pay rise — or between $35.27 and $55.48.
Lower and mid-ranked Defence members will be forced to pay between 1.3 per cent and 2.5 per cent more, but captains and warrant officers will not be affected.
"Not only do they grudgingly provide a pay increase that is less than the CPI and therefore an effective pay cut, but they then impose charges on ADF members and their families higher than the 1.5 per cent," DFWA national president David Jamison said.
"We also contend that there is a lack of transparency in the way Defence calculates its charges imposed on ADF members, which needs to be addressed."
Mr Jamison said he was "fairly confident" a large number of Defence members were not aware of the rent increases, which begin from January 29. He said they would be "surprised" when they received their rent bills next year.
A spokesman for Assistant Defence Minister Stuart Robert said the majority of ADF personnel, including privates and corporals, would pay only an extra 1.3 per cent rent.
"The changes in ADF members' rent contributions are based on actual changes in the cost of housing that's provided for their use by Defence," he said.
"It is based on a standard process which has been in place for a number of years and is consistent with market movements. There is no linkage to ADF pay."
Independent senator Jacqui Lambie, who has been campaigning for a 3 per cent ADF pay rise, yesterday wrote to Tony Abbott claiming the rent increases "further undermine your credibility as Australia's leader".
"In light of the season and Christmas spirit, I once again ask that you please reflect deeply on the hurt you have caused to individual members of our defence forces and our national security and reconsider your position," she wrote.