Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

South Australia considering Howard Government offer of assistance for self-funded retirees

Family and Community Services Minister, Senator Kay Patterson, today encouraged the South Australian Government to continue working together with the Howard Government, to provide new savings for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders.

South Australia has indicated it is willing to accept the Australian Government’s offer, to save Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders an average of nearly $700 a year on their electricity charges, car registration, rates, water and sewerage.

‘The cost of electricity has risen sharply in South Australia recently. We hope the South Australian Government will continue to work with the Commonwealth, to ensure self-funded retirees will benefit from this Australian Government initiative.’

‘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.’ said Senator Patterson.

The Australian Government 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.

‘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 would like to thank them for their co-operation,’ said Senator Patterson.

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 that all states and territories fell into line with their counterparts and negotiated to reward their self-funded retirees.

‘South Australian Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders will begin benefiting from this Howard Government initiative if the South Australian Government continues their commitment to our seniors.’ said Senator Patterson.