Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Reference Group for Pension Review

The Pension Review Reference Group met for the first time today in Canberra, as part of the Australian Government’s review into retirement incomes, including the age pension. This review will form part of the inquiry into Australia’s Future Tax System.

The Reference Group will provide valuable input into the Pension Review, which the Secretary of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Dr Jeff Harmer, is undertaking.

The Rudd Government knows that many pensioners are finding it tough to make ends meet. Cost of living pressures like groceries, bills and petrol mean it is harder and harder to cope.

A key component of the inquiry will be to look at the adequacy of existing support for seniors and carers, and investigate measures which could strengthen their financial security in the long term.

The review will investigate a number of issues affecting seniors, carers and people with disability, including the appropriate levels of income support and allowances, the frequency of payments, and the structure and payment of concessions or other entitlements.

Dr Harmer will consult with representatives from seniors, carers, disability and community groups, as well as other experts, to ensure the review reflects the views and aspirations of those most affected by any reforms.

The Government will be calling for public submissions following the release of a Pension Review background paper in August.

We are determined to make this review inclusive and comprehensive. We want as many Australians as possible to be involved in telling us how we can improve the system.

Dr Harmer will report back to the Government on these issues by 28 February 2009.

This report will inform the broader inquiry into Australia’s Future Tax System, which will conclude by the end of 2009.

The Reference Group consists of the following members:

  • Ms Charmaine Crowe, Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association of NSW
  • Ms Patricia Reeve, Council of The Ageing Victoria
  • Mr Ross Clare, Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia
  • Ms Val French AM, Older People Speak Out
  • Ms Joan Hughes, Carers Australia
  • Mr Michael O’Neill, National Seniors Australia
  • Mr Bruce Bonyhady, Philanthropy Australia
  • Dr Rhonda Galbally AO, Our Community
  • Mr Gregor Macfie, Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)
  • Professor Peter Whiteford, Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales
  • Professor Bob Gregory AO, Research School of Social Sciences, ANU
  • Ms Marion Gaynor, Australian Council of Trade Unions
  • Dr Lorna Hallahan, South Australian Disability Advisory Council