Budget: Pensions – 2UE
*** E & OE – Proof only ***
JENNY MACKLIN: Good to be with you John.
JOHN STANLEY: Am I right about that? And this is grandfathered, so existing pensioner arrangements won’t be affected?
JENNY MACKLIN: That’s exactly right. There are two things I’d say. One is that all existing pensioners are not only not going to be affected by the change to the, as you called it, the taper rate or the way in which we target the pension, so existing pensioners will remain on the same conditions that they were on in relation to the taper rate before the change announced yesterday and they will all receive the minimum of $10.14 a week even if they’re on the last $1 of the pension so that’s an important point taken. Can I just correct what you said in your introduction about the, sorry to do this…
JOHN STANLEY: No, all right, no I’m very happy to do this, I was waiting for all the papers last night and you know I’m happy to admit it if I got it wrong.
JENNY MACKLIN: No, no, you’re not the only one. We had some other calls about this so I want to really clarify it. The extra $2.49 that single pensioners are getting to the pension supplement is on top of what they receive currently for the utilities allowance, telephone allowance, so it’s not instead of, it’s on top of and that’s obviously a very important point.
JOHN STANLEY: Those quarterly payments they’ll still get that will they?
JENNY MACKLIN: They will still get all of those quarterly payments but we’re wrapping them all up into one payment to simplify it so there won’t be any reduction. They’ll still get the value of the utilities allowance, the telephone allowance, the GST supplement, the pharmaceutical allowance, but if you’re single $2.49 a week. From the 20 September people will get that all paid fortnightly and from the following July pensioners will be able to choose whether to take it fortnightly or quarterly whatever suits them.
JOHN STANLEY: Okay, now just to clarify they’ll get the $32.49 a week so a single pensioner from September, a single age pensioner. That $2.49 is in the form of a new pension supplement, then they get the other pension supplement as well.
JENNY MACKLIN: That’s correct.
JOHN STANLEY: They actually get more than $32.49 a week?
JENNY MACKLIN: No, they’ll get, the extra they’re getting is $32.49 but they keep all of what they are currently getting from the utilities allowance, and the telephone allowance.
JOHN STANLEY: And that’ll be paid fortnightly, so they work out what they get quarterly at the moment in those allowances and then they can divide that by or multiply it by 4, divide it by 26 and they’ll work out what they get a fortnight, is that right?
JENNY MACKLIN: We won’t be requiring everyone to do all those sums.
JOHN STANLEY: And if they want to work out what they’re going to get, okay, so that explains it …..
JENNY MACKLIN: And for couples, the $10.14 is also extra so that is on top of their utilities allowances a week.
JOHN STANLEY: Okay that’s $10.14 for the couples. There will be grey areas here so there will be people for example, who may start work next week, well you know does this apply from September or when, when does that grandfathering start?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well legislation hasn’t even started in the Parliament yet so we will need to get all that drafted and ready, but the new pensioner arrangements will start from 20 September.
JOHN STANLEY: The 20 September. The other issue and I might have touched on this in some senses and perhaps (inaudible) your answer starting in September are you working on the basis of that $1400 that you paid last December will be able to carry pensioners through to September?
JENNY MACKLIN: The reason we’re doing it on 20 September is that we need that time to both get the legislation through the Parliament and get all the Centrelink systems changed, so it’s actually those typical reasons that we need to wait till the 20 September. But of course we also were aware last December that this would take a little bit of time and made those very substantial payments your listeners would remember of $1400 for singles and $2100 for couples.
JOHN STANLEY: All right and the other issue that has come up and this has been asked repeatedly today, single parents and the unemployed, they didn’t get anything in the Budget, why no assistance for them?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well, it’s not right to say they didn’t get anything in the Budget. A couple of things, one is that there is a new training bonus that is available both for people on the parenting and to people on Newstart if they engage in any types of training that would enable them to get work once the recovery. So there is a training bonus specifically targeted at both of those groups and I’d also just remind people on the single parenting payment also received these Family Tax Benefit A and Family Tax Benefit B, depending on the number of children that you have. That can give you $8,000 more than someone on the single age pension so we need to just remember that.
JOHN STANLEY: Okay I thank you very much for that, and I think that clarifies some of those issues and I’m sure more will pop up.
JENNY MCAKLIN: That’s fine, gives us a call.
JOHN STANLEY: Jenny Macklin there whose the Minister for Familes, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.