Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

South Australian Seniors Week

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, today acknowledged the start of Seniors Week in South Australia.

“Seniors Week is an excellent time to pay tribute to the valuable role that so many seniors play in our community,” Minister Brough said.

“Many seniors are involved in volunteer activities in their local communities, using their skills and breadth of experience to help build stronger communities.

“The Howard Government acknowledges the important role it has in supporting seniors, by ensuring that since 1998, pension payments not only keep pace with inflation, but also reflect movements in Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE.)

“As a consequence, single pensioners are now $72.80 better off a fortnight than they would have been if increases remained linked only to CPI. Couples are $122.60 better off.

“The Coalition Government reaffirmed its’ commitment to senior Australians in the 2007-08 Budget by announcing a $500 payment to those receiving the Utilities Allowance and the Seniors Concession Allowance. Around 200,000 South Australians received these payments.

“Also, around 300,000 senior Australians will get an increase in their pension or a pension for the first time due to significant changes to the assets test that came into effect on the 20th of September

“It is through strong economic management that the Government is able to deliver these greater benefits to pensioners.

“There are real risks to the benefits the Coalition Government has been able to extend to senior Australians if the economy is not managed responsibly. If the Government does not deliver budget surpluses it cannot afford to extend benefits to older Australians. When last in government, Labor delivered budget deficits in 9 out of 13 years. The last five Labor budgets were at least $10 billion in deficit.

“I would encourage the South Australian community to use this week to pay tribute to the vital role of seniors in our community.”