News National PM backs down on ADF deal

PM backs down on ADF deal

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott has partially backed down on the issue of defence force personnel pay, announcing the government will change allowances for defence employees.

However, Mr Abbott said that no changes would be made to the 1.5 per cent ADF pay increase, blaming a budget in deficit.

ADF allowances in question include extra leave over Christmas.

The prime minister admitted last week had been a “ragged week for the government”, with the GP co-payment blocked by the senate.

• Lambie goes rogue on ADF pay
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Defence Minister David Johnston also said he didn’t trust South Australian shipbuilder ASC to “build a canoe”.

“I think we just have to be realistic about defence force pay,” Mr Abbott said on Monday morning.

“We’re determined to stick with the 1.5 per cent pay arrangement but the commitment I give to our defence forces is that no one in the public sector will do better than them.”

The prime minister said the government had to be responsible with spending, admitting the decision was “regrettable but reasonable”.

“We’re in the business of what we think is best under the circumstances under which we find ourselves, and there is a massive budget repair task,” he said.

The government is under mounting pressure to increase pay for defence force personnel, with only one week left of parliament for the year.

Labor has warned that the Prime Minister has until the end of Monday to write to the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal to improve wages.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Abbott was only ‘half-heartedly’ trying to fix the issue of ADF pay.

“If [the Prime Minister] wants to fix up defence pay, he shouldn’t do it in a half-hearted fashion,” Mr Shorten told ABC radio.

“What he needs to do with defence pay is make sure that our troops, their wages are keeping up just with the cost of living.”

“Tony Abbott loves to talk about Team Australia but he refuses to pay the team that protects Australia properly.”

Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie said she would be voting down all legislation until ADF wages were increased.

Senator Lambie was due to have talks with Mr Abbott on Monday but they have been postponed, which she said was “disappointing”.

“It’s all or nothing on the ADF pay deal. I’m not going to take any prisoners. It’s time to empty the magazine, fix bayonets and charge,” Senator Lambie said.

“I’ll not be satisfied with any result short of a total victory in the ADF fair pay war.”

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