Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Questions without Notice
Pensions and Benefits
I thank the honourable member for Deakin for his question. I note what a strong interest he has in assisting our older Australians. This government is delivering for our older Australians. Our $10.4 billion Economic Security Strategy announced yesterday decisively acts to assist the nation’s four million pensioners, carers and seniors who are doing it tough. The immediate $4.8 billion down payment on long-term pension reform provides immediate relief for elderly Australians and it builds on the $7.5 billion in support this government provided in its first budget.
For elderly Australians the financial crisis has placed increasing pressures on budgets already stretched by the rising cost of living. That is why yesterday’s announcement is not our final statement on pension reform. The decisive action taken in the Economic Security Strategy delivers for older Australians right now, but we are committed to long-term pension reform, to be delivered next year. These one-off payments will not be taxed and will not be included for income-testing purposes. People who live in our nursing homes will be able to keep the entire lump sum. These one-off payments are a sensible measure with a lump sum of $1,400 for a single age pensioner and $2,100 for a couple. Make no mistake: a one-off payment like this will make a huge difference to the lives of so many older Australians, whether it is about covering their day-to-day living expenses, their household repairs or preparing for Christmas. It is our older Australians who built this nation. These are the people who defended our country, these are the people who paid their taxes and these are the people who have raised their families. It is this government that is delivering for them with this package.