Australian Defence Force veterans wage online war against Member for Wannon Dan Tehan over pension tax status

MEMBER for Wannon Dan Tehan has been targeted by a persistent online campaign by some Australian Defence Force veterans over tax changes to pensions.

The veterans claim they will be hundreds of dollars a fortnight worse off from the changes under Mr Tehan as Veterans Affairs Minister, which alter the tax status for invalidity payments.

Veterans from across Australia have used social media websites Facebook and Twitter to send messages and leave comments for Mr Tehan.

On twitter, the veterans and their supporters have been using the hashtag #veteranclawback and tagging Mr Tehan in hundreds of posts.

At the time of publication, Mr Tehan has not directly engaged with the campaign on social media. 

The campaign has run since a July 7 statement by Mr Tehan and Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer.

“Some superannuants were using a loophole to reduce their tax obligations on their superannuation income streams by electing to treat their income as a series of lump sum payments,” the statement said. 

“Elsewhere in the tax system similar attempts to reduce tax are not sanctioned and the enabling loopholes are closed.”

The statement said 390 out of 11,800 military pension holders would be affected.

“The government provides more than $11 billion annually in pensions and services to veterans and their families. This year’s budget provided a significant increase of $350 million in support of veterans,” the statement said.

The use of the term ‘loophole’ seems to have particularly infuriated veterans.

Former 1 RAR infantry battalion commanding officer Ray Martin told the Advertiser that the campaign would continue.

“We won't give up. It's simple mate,” he said.

One comment left on Mr Tehan’s official Facebook page claimed to be from a veteran who said he would be $435 worse off per fortnight 

“I am unable to physically work at the moment, so I have no way of making it up,” he said. 

“My question to you is why doesn't the government fight for us veterans like we fought for you?”

Veterans have been posting images of Mr Tehan every day on social media sites featuring sarcastic or hostile captions.

One post featured an image of Mr Tehan with another image of record-holding international cricket bowler Shane Warne and declared both men the ‘masters of spin’.