Veterans’ affairs minister Andrew Gee wound up getting an announcement of additional funding for veterans on the weekend, after he threatened to resign.
The funding is for the processing of a backlog of claims that are sitting in the inboxes within his department.
Gee was assured the program to fix the backlog of veterans’ claims would be funded to the full $96 million, once he twisted the arm of deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce on Saturday morning.
“I told him that the media was waiting outside the office, and as courtesy, I was letting him know as my leader that I was going to resign from cabinet,” Gee said.
“That followed quite a bit of activity, and the end result is that the $96 million to help process and clear this backlog of 60,000 claims is now going to be forthcoming.
“I accept that in politics and in life you have to make compromises, but my personal integrity is not up for compromise.”
Prime minister Scott Morrison told a press conference, held primarily to announce an additional funding boost to Lifeline, that he disagreed with the notion that Gee’s resignation threat led to additional funding of the backlog.
Morrison said that funds that meet the request made by the minister would be drawn from a contingency reserve.
“We’ve already invested in, we will invest around $11.5 billion a year to support our veterans. In the 21-20, 21-22 Budget, we provided an additional $702 million with the focus on wellbeing, suicide prevention and ensuring DVA was appropriately equipped,” Morrison said.
“Now this includes measures for departmental operations and processing times, support physical and mental wellbeing of veterans, provisional access to medical treatment programs, we had $30 million to enable DVA to support requests from the Royal Commission.”
Morrison said that Gee was new to the budget process as well as stating the minister would have some work to do to ensure that the programs for which the funding has been allocated are properly implemented.
“Because, you know, it’s one thing to make an investment, but you’ve got to have the confidence that the investments that you’re making can then be implemented effectively,” Morrison said.