Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Turnbull backflip on pensions

Malcolm Turnbull today made it obvious that he does not understand his own pension policy and is out of touch on major domestic challenges like pensions.

In a stunning backflip, Mr Turnbull revealed on the Nine network that the Opposition pension proposal will include veterans. This is a last-minute change to their notice of motion that as recently as last Thursday made no mention of any pensioners besides single age pensioners.

Laurie Oakes: But you’re limiting your proposal to people who are on the single rate age pension. Why just those people, what about veterans for example? I mean, take two Australians, say 76 years old. One’s an aged pensioner and one’s a veteran. They’re both living on $273 dollar a week pensions…

Malcolm Turnbull: Well they would both be covered under our proposal.

Laurie Oakes: Your proposal covers veterans’ pensioners as well as …

Malcolm Turnbull: Our proposal will cover single-aged pensions and people on service pensions that are getting the same single service age pension. So it covers single pensions.

Mr Turnbull’s backflip on veterans exposes a staggering shortfall of around $440 million in his policy over four years.

This is on top of the $880 million funding black hole because of their failure to take into account recent growth in age pensions.

The Opposition claimed its pension proposal cost $1.3 billion a year. Now that Mr Turnbull has hastily modified his pension proposal to include veterans it will cost another $110 million a year.

Mr Turnbull has also been caught out cynically misleading more than 500,000 carers, disability support pensioners and wife pensioners by suggesting they will all benefit from his pension proposal claiming it ‘covers single pensions’.

This is heartless political manipulation at its worst.

The Opposition’s pension policy has not been properly thought through and Mr Turnbull has been caught out making policy on the run.

The Liberals had 12 years to fix the pension system properly but did nothing. Last year the Howard Cabinet actually voted against raising the base rate of the pension.

Reforming the pension system needs more than Mr Turnbull’s quick fix.

Unlike the Opposition, the Australian Government is determined to give pensioners security and get this right for the long term.

ORIGINAL – Senate Notice Paper 18 September 2008, p.14

Notice given 17 September 2008
*200 Senator Coonan: To move-That the following bill be introduced: A Bill for an Act to amend the Social Security Act 1991 to increase payments to single age pensioners and part pensioners by $30 per week. Urgent Relief for Single Age Pensioners Bill 2008.

AMENDED – Senate Notice Paper 22 September 2008, p.4

Notice given 17 September 2008
200 Senator Coonan: To move-That the following bill be introduced: A Bill for an Act to amend the Social Security Act 1991 and the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 to increase payments to single age Pensioners by $30 per week, and for related purposes. Urgent Relief for Single Age Pensioners Bill 2008 .
Notice of motion altered on 18 September 2008 pursuant to standing order 77.