Transcript of press conference, Melbourne
E & OE – Proof only
Subject: Pension increases, Western Sydney, Schoolkids Bonus
JENNY MACKLIN: Thanks very much for joining us here. I’m very pleased to announce that from 20th March around 3 and a half million pensioners across Australia will benefit from the latest increase to the pension. For those pensioners, single pensioners on the max rate the pension will go up by around $35 dollars a fortnight, and for the couples combined it’s around $54 a fortnight. This includes the Clean Energy Supplement, which from the 20th of March will be paid fortnightly straight into people’s bank accounts. So this is a very, very positive improvement in the pension to make sure that pensioners can keep up with the cost of living. It does reflect this Government’s determination to make sure that we continue to help pensioners. It’s this Government that delivered the biggest increase to the pension back in 2009, the best improvement in indexation that pensioners have seen, and it’s that improvement in indexation that is seeing this rise to the pension today.
REPORTER: We’ve just heard from some of the pensioners about how hard the increase in cost of living is. Do you think that this will really be enough to get your party over the line come September?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well we know how important it is to make sure that the pension does keep up with the cost of living. That’s why this Government improved the way that we amend the pension twice a year, to make sure that it keeps up with pensioners’ cost of living and that’s why we’re seeing it go up by $35 a fortnight to make sure that it does keep up with the costs that pensioners face.
REPORTER: How would you define the profile of voters in Western Sydney?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think what we know is that people in Sydney, just like here in Melbourne, they represent a wide cross-section of the Australian people. I’m very pleased to be here in my electorate, here in Melbourne, talking with pensioners about how important it is to deliver an improvement to their pension and there’ll be three and a half million pensioners, right across Australia, who’ll benefit from this pension rise.
REPORTER: Are you concerned that some Cabinet Ministers in Western Sydney like Chris Bowen could lose their seat at the next election?
JENNY MACKLIN: I’m not here to talk about those matters, I’m here to talk with pensioners, and the three and a half million pensioners who are going to benefit, and benefit because this Government is determined to make sure we have a pension system that keeps up with pensioners’ cost of living increases.
REPORTER: Tony Abbott’s in Western Sydney today, do you think he’s stolen Julia Gillard’s thunder by going there today?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well, I’m here in Heidelberg talking with pensioners, making sure that pensioners get the increase they deserve.
REPORTER: You’re talking to these pensioners here, but have you spoken to people in Western Sydney, obviously Centrelink has a big role there?
JENNY MACKLIN: I’ve spent a lot of time in many parts of Australia, I will be out in Western Sydney next week. I’ll be talking with parents about the Schoolkids Bonus and I’ll be saying to parents make sure you realise that Tony Abbott is going to take the Schoolkids Bonus off you. If you’ve got a teenager in secondary school, Tony Abbott will take $800 a year off you for every child you have. I’ll also be talking with pensioners, and pensioners also need to know that Tony Abbott will take $1 billion off pensioners, $1 billion will go because Tony Abbott wants to get rid of the Clean Energy Supplement. That’s what pensioners need to know, and that’s what parents need to know.
REPORTER: So what are the concerns of voters in Western Sydney and what’s the Government doing to address them?
JENNY MACKLIN: The concerns of pensioners right across Australia is to make sure that we have pension system that is fair, that is delivering increases to pensioners to make sure it keeps up with the costs of living. When we had a Liberal Government in Canberra, they refused to increase the pension, it was up to a Labor Government to deliver a very significant improvement to the pension and to improve the indexation system so that the pension keeps up with pensioners’ cost of living.
REPORTER: Is there any particular concerns to those voters in Western Sydney that you think the Government really does have to address?
JENNY MACKLIN: I think people in Sydney just like here in Melbourne need to know they’re getting a decent increase to the pension to keep up with the cost of living. And pensioners in Sydney and in Melbourne also need to know that Tony Abbott is going to take $1 billion out of the pockets of pensions.
REPORTER: What will Julia Gillard’s visit to Western Sydney actually achieve, given these polls suggest it’s going to be futile?
JENNY MACKLIN: I think it’s important for us, all of us, all the time to be talking with people in our communities. That’s what I do, it’s what the Prime Minister does, I’m here in Heidelberg in my electorate today talking with local pensioners about the increase that they will receive and this increase will go to three and a half million pensioners right around Australia from the 20th of March.
REPORTER: You say that you’re going next week to Western Sydney, is that as a result of concerns about the level of low polling there?
JENNY MACKLIN: In fact I’ve been in Western Sydney every week for the last few weeks, it’s nothing new for me to be in Western Sydney. But today we’re talking about the pension rise that will benefit people not just in Sydney, it will benefit pensioners right around Australia. Three and a half million pensioners will get a rise from the 20th of March because of this Labor Government. Tony Abbott will take $1 billion out of the pockets of pensioners when he gets rid of the Clean Energy Supplement.
REPORTER: Are we likely to see a real boost in the number of Ministers who descend on Western Sydney just to try to shore up the numbers there?
JENNY MACKLIN: My job is to make sure that we deliver for pensioners, that we deliver for parents, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.
REPORTER: The latest poll indicates electoral annihilation for Labor unless Kevin Rudd is reinstated, is that a viable option?
JENNY MACKLIN: I’m not here to talk about those matters, I’m here to talk about pensions, talking with people who need this extra money. We’re delivering it, the Labor Government is delivering this rise to pensioners, it was never delivered by a Liberal Government and Tony Abbott wants to take $1 billion out of the pockets of pensioners.