Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Turnbull is Arthur and Martha on pensions

In his first day in his new job, Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has shown that he is out of touch with 2.2 million Australian pensioners and does not understand how Australia’s pension system works.

Mr Turnbull says he supports both an immediate increase in the base rate of the pension and the Government’s investigation of the pension system.

Mr Turnbull must decide which position he is taking. He either support Brendan Nelson’s political quick fix that left 2.2 million pensioners out in the cold; or he supports the Government’s commitment to fixing the system for the long term.

Mr Turnbull cannot walk both sides of the street on the issue of pensions.

In an interview last night on the Seven Network, Mr Turnbull was asked whether he would continue with Dr Nelson’s pension proposal to introduce a Private Member’s Bill to the parliament:

INTERVIEWER: One of the issues we’ve been pushing is the plight of pensioners. Brendan Nelson told us this afternoon that he is no longer proceeding with his pensioner bill since he is not leader. Will you take it over?

TURNBULL: Oh yes, that’s our policy and we will be presenting that in the Senate. That’s the proposal to present that. We are very committed to – we’re not – look, we are committed to a complete review of pensions and the Government is undertaking that and there should be a complete review but we need action now and our proposal for $30 a week is something that can be done right now.

The Liberals had 12 years to fix the pension system properly, including last year when the Howard Cabinet voted against raising the base rate of the pension.

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

The Government has ordered a comprehensive investigation into the structure and adequacy of the pension.

A wide range of opinions are being expressed about the best way of improving the system and these views will be given the careful attention they deserve.

When that review is complete, the Government will respond swiftly.