Quarantining of 2009 pension rise from South Australian public housing rents – 5AA Mornings with Leon Byner.
LEON BYNER: Well let’s put this now to the Federal Housing and Communities Minister, Jenny Macklin. Jenny our state government has basically signalled their intention to dip into that money that you gave as a gesture, and good on you for doing it back in 2009, that the then Prime Minister instructed the states not to do. What do you say about that? And good morning.
JENNY MACKLIN: Good morning to you Leon and to your listeners. You’re right, we have made a request to all the states and territories to make sure that the pension rise from back in 2009 stays in the pockets of the pensioner. We do not want it eaten up by state government public housing authorities and I will keep pressing all of the states, including the South Australian Government, to make sure that is the case.
LEON BYNER: Now, I know that New South Wales were wanting to do it and you have stared them down and said no. Will you do the same thing for us?
JENNY MACKLIN: Yes, I’ve had an exchange with the New South Wales government, you’re right…
LEON BYNER: Exchange?
JENNY MACKLIN: They have now agreed to keep the arrangement going whereby pensioners keep that pension rise for a little bit longer, so certainly we’ll be doing exactly the same with South Australia. We did, in fact, have the South Australian government acknowledging last year that they would indefinitely exempt the 2009 pension rise from public housing rent increases.
LEON BYNER: Let me get this right, they indefinitely told your government?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well they said they would indefinitely exempt the pension rise, that’s right, and so I certainly expect that to happen.
LEON BYNER: Now let me just get this right, it was meant, was it not, to compensate for utility and cost of living pressures?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well we had already increased the utility allowance, that was one of the first things we did when we came into government, so we increased the utilities allowance by around four hundred dollars and then you might remember we also made some extraordinary payments to pensioners during the Global Financial Crisis and they also went to self-funded retirees who had Commonwealth Seniors health cards. So we did provide some extra increases, but then over and above that we did really recognise that the base rate of the pension needed to be increased. People had been looking for an overall increase in the base rate, particularly for single pensioners, over a long period.
LEON BYNER: So you as Families Minister will back in South Australian battlers and tell Mr Rann and Ms Rankin hands-off the pensioner increase?
JENNY MACKLIN: I’ve made it very clear to the South Australian Government and every other state government that we expect the pension rise in 2009 to stay with pensioners.
LEON BYNER: And they gave you at the time an unequivocal guarantee that they would do this?
JENNY MACKLIN: They did
LEON BYNER: In perpetuity?
JENNY MACKLIN: They did
LEON BYNER: Alright. Jenny Macklin, thank you for joining us today.