Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

100 years of the Age Pension

The centenary of Australia’s Age Pension was marked today by the unveiling of a commemorative site in the Parliamentary Triangle in Canberra.

The Centenary of the Age Pension Commemoration celebrates 100 years since the first pension payments were made in July 1909.

The Commonwealth Parliament passed the Invalid and Old-Age Pensions Act, creating the foundation of Australia’s social security system, in mid-1908.

With first payments in July 1909, the Age Pension was modest in its reach and its rate, providing just 65,500 age pensioners with a pension of up to 10 shillings a week. Today more than two million Australians receive the Age Pension.

Today’s celebrations coincide with the Australian Government’s recent landmark reforms of the pension system, delivering a simpler, fairer, and flexible safety net for millions of age and disability pensioners, carers and veterans.

These long overdue reforms will provide greater certainty for pensioners, and meet the new challenges of an ageing population in the 21st century.

The reforms will help the pension support millions more Australian seniors over the next 100 years.

Under the Australian Government’s Secure and Sustainable Pension Reform, all 3.3 million age pensioners, disability pensioners, carers, wife pensioners and veteran income support recipients will benefit from increases in their pension payments.

From 20 September 2009, single pensioners on the full rate will receive an extra $32.49 per week, and $10.14 per week combined for couples on the full rate.

These significant reforms reaffirm the Australian Government’s long-term commitment to securing a better financial future for pensioners.

The principle of giving older Australians security, support and dignity, which drove the Age Pension’s introduction 100 years ago, continues to be the cornerstone of Australia’s income support system.

The Centenary of the Age Pension Commemoration is at the northern corner of the Treasury Building in the Parliamentary Triangle in Canberra, and its design is based on a 1910 shilling.