Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Pension rate breaks the $400 mark

Minister for Family and Community Services, Amanda Vanstone, today announced that the single basic rate of pension would break the $400 a fortnight mark as a result of the March increase to social security rates.

Senator Vanstone said more than 3.5 million Australians would get a financial boost from the increases to pensions and allowances paid to people over 21, which take effect from 20 March.

“The maximum single rate of pension will increase by $7.90 to $402.00 a fortnight, while the pension rate for each member of a couple will increase by $6.60 to $335.50,” Senator Vanstone said.

“Single people over 21 receiving allowances, like Newstart Allowance, will get up to $7.60 a fortnight extra, while each member of a couple will get an increase of $6.40.

“The increases, combined with the 2% ($7.45 a fortnight for a single pensioner) advance in July 2000, ensure that pensions and allowances reflect the full increase to the cost of living between July and December 2000. There was also a $7.20 increase in September last year.

“In addition to the CPI advance, pensioners received a 2% real and permanent increase in July 2000, adding $7.45 to their payment.”

Senator Vanstone said pension and allowance rates were increased regularly to maintain their value in line with increases to the cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

“When required, pensions are also increased to maintain their value in line with increases to wages,” Senator Vanstone said.

“The Howard Government will continue to protect the living standards of older Australians by its commitment to maintaining pensions at, at least, 25 per cent of Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE). Unlike Labor, this Government has enshrined that commitment in legislation.

“As a result of CPI, MTAWE and the special tax reform increase, the single rate of pension has gone up by $66.10 from $335.90 to $402, and the partnered rate by $55.30 from $280.20 to $335.50, since March 1996.”