Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Social security pensions and adult benefits to rise from Sept 20

Over 3.5 million pensioners and adults receiving income support will benefit from a rise in pension and adult benefit rates from 20 September, Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Amanda Vanstone, said today.

Senator Vanstone said the boost to adult benefit payments was due to a rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the six months to June 2001.

For pensioners, the increase is a combination of CPI and an increase in the May quarter Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE) figure.

“From September 20, a single pensioner on full pension will receive an extra $221.00 a year, while each member of a pensioner couple on full pension will receive an extra $184.60 a year,” Senator Vanstone said.

“The maximum single rate of pension will rise by $8.50 to $410.50 a fortnight, while the maximum-partnered pension will increase by $7.10 to $342.60 a fortnight for each member of a couple.”

Senator Vanstone said the Howard Government was committed to providing financial security by protecting the living standards of age pensioners.

“In March 1997, we legislated to set pensions at 25 per cent of MTAWE, as well as continuing to raise pensions in line with CPI, providing a significant extra financial safeguard for older Australians.

“In this way, we are helping protect the living standards and financial security of older Australians.”

“Since the legislation took effect in March 1998, increases to MTAWE have boosted the maximum single rate of pension by $16.20 a fortnight, while the maximum partnered rate for each member of a pensioner couple has risen by a total of $13.70 a fortnight.

“It’s a fact that older Australians are protected in two ways – age pension rates are regularly adjusted to keep pace with increases to the costs of living, as well being boosted to reflect rises in living standards, as measured by wages.

Senator Vanstone said the quarterly Telephone Allowance rate would rise from $17.20 to $18.00 per quarter, and would now be available, for the first time, to eligible holders of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

“This all adds up to great news for older Australians.”

Other payments to rise include the adult allowance rates of Parenting Payment, Mature Age Allowance, Newstart Allowance, Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance, Special Benefit and Sickness Allowance. Other rates to increase include Maximum Rent Assistance and Maternity Allowance.