Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Turnbull and the Liberals abandon Australian pensioners

The Opposition’s policy back-flip revealed today makes a complete mockery of the private member’s bill they introduced into Parliament last year to increase the single age pension.

Tony Abbott today told 2GB:

Many pensioners are doing it tough, but $35 a week increase is an enormous hit on the revenue. We’re talking here about possibly 6 billion dollars a year. The economic circumstances of Australia are much different now than they were 12 months ago.

These comments from Tony Abbott are a slap in the face for Australian pensioners revealing once and for all that last year’s private member’s bill was political posturing at its worst.

It was a shamelessly cynical sham which played politics with vulnerable older Australians.

It shows that Malcolm Turnbull and his colleagues are prepared to use pensioners for their own political purposes when it suits them, only to turn their backs when they’ve outlived their political usefulness.

In December last year, as part of the $10.4 billion Economic Security Strategy the Australian Government made lump sum payments of $1,400 for each single pensioner and $2,100 for couples – a down payment on long-term pension reform to be delivered in the context of this year’s Budget.

Four out of every five of the 2.8 million Australians aged over 65 benefited from these payments.

The Government has also taken steps to reduce the impact of the global economic crisis on pensioners’ budgets.

Following the dramatic falls on share markets, on October 2008 the Government asked Centrelink to review the value of listed securities and managed investments with the revised values taking effect from 3 November 2008.

The Government has also twice lowered the deeming rate to take account of lower investment yields.

Around 290,000 older Australians will benefit from the Government’s $42 billion Nation Building and Jobs plan.

Self-funded retirees who paid tax in 2007-8 through investments or other income and part pensioners who paid even $1 of tax, will get a tax bonus of up to $900.

In total, excluding normal indexation, the Rudd Government has provided an additional $2,337 of assistance to single pensioners and $3,537 to pensioner couples since coming to office.