Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Further Assistance for older Australians

Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Amanda Vanstone, today announced she has started important discussions with State and Territory Governments to negotiate a wider range of concessions for holders of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC).

Senator Vanstone said she had recently written to all State Community Services Ministers. As a result, discussions have begun about extending some or all of the concessions to CSHC holders that are currently available to pensioners.

“These discussions are yet another step in honouring the commitment made in the May Budget to acknowledge the contribution older Australians have made to our country,” Senator Vanstone said.

“If negotiations with the States and Territories are successful, CSHC holders stand to gain significant relief from charges on a number of essential services.

“Possible concessions being discussed include council rates, utilities charges, motor vehicle registration costs and public transport.

“By introducing cost reductions to essential services, both Federal and State and Territory Governments would be looking after older Australians and helping them live more comfortably in their later years.

“The current benefits offered to CSHC holders include subsidised pharmaceuticals through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and from September, eligible card holders will receive a quarterly $17.20 Telephone Allowance.

“There are approximately 450,000 Australians already receiving or eligible for CSHC.”

The CSHC is available to Australian residents over Age Pension age (65 for men and 62 for women) who earn less than $50,000 for singles and $80,000 for couples.

Senator Vanstone said while State and Territory Governments are primarily responsible for delivering concessions, the Commonwealth was keen to work in partnership to help deliver increased benefits to card holders.