Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Labor states and territories snub self-funded retirees

Labor state and territory governments have today rejected the Australian Government’s offer to save Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders an average of nearly $700 a year on their rates, car registration, electricity charges, water and sewerage.

The Australian Government had offered the states and territories $75 million to provide these concessions for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders.

All states, excluding Western Australia and South Australia rejected the offer during a meeting of Community and Disability Services Ministers in Hobart.

Family and Community Services Minister, Kay Patterson said she was dismayed at the Ministers’ response.

“This is a blow for self-funded retirees – an important group in the community who have provided for their own retirement. Despite being a state responsibility, providing these discounts for our seniors was just one way we could recognise and acknowledge the contribution self-funded retirees have made, and continue to make to Australia.

“The Howard Government’s offer was generous because we were asking the States and Territories to pay less than half of the costs.

“I am disappointed that the other states and territories have snubbed their self-funded retirees by declining this generous offer. Western Australia and South Australia have agreed to negotiate with us and I commend them for their foresight co-operation, ” said Senator Patterson.

Senator Patterson said the offer was based on joint funding with the Australian Government contributing 60% and the states 40% of the costs of providing the concessions.

“It is time the states and territories fell into line with their counterparts and negotiated to reward their self-funded retirees.”