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Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Tasmanian Seniors Week

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

“Seniors Week is an excellent time to pay tribute to the enormous contribution that so many seniors in our community have made and will make in the future,” Minister Brough said.

“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 Howard 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. Over 60,000 Tasmanian retirees 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 Tasmanian community to use this week to pay tribute to the vital role of seniors in our community.”