Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Self-funded retirees better off

More than 297,000 self-funded retirees holding a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) will on Monday start receiving the first instalment of their new payment of $200 a year as part of a Howard Government initiative to better assist them in their senior years.

Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today announced the Howard Government was honouring another election promise by providing the new payment to self-funded retirees holding a CSHC, delivered in two payments of $100 in December and June.

‘Despite several generous offers to the states and territories, we can no longer wait for their agreement to offer self-funded retirees the concessions they deserve,’ Senator Patterson said.

‘The new payment will help CSHC holders with their energy, rates, water and sewerage and motor vehicle registration costs.

In the 2001-02 Budget, the Howard Government provided more self-funded retirees with a CSHC, giving them access to discounts on certain medical, transport and Government costs, providing Telephone Allowance for eligible subscribers, further enabling them to enjoy their senior years.

‘Concession holders receive prescription items listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme at the concessional rate; bulk-billed GP appointments; and a reduction in the cost of out-of-hospital medical expenses above a concessional threshold through the Medicare Safety Net.

‘Existing card holders will be paid the first instalment of the new CSHC payment in December 2004, and further payments in June and December each year.’

The Howard Government will invest $258.3 million over four years, building on its strong record of support for older Australians.

‘It is now time for the State and Territory Governments to come to the table and offer self-funded retirees the much needed concessions they deserve.

‘Self-funded retirees have taken steps to provide for themselves in retirement, the Howard Government recognises the importance of maintaining the lifestyle they deserve and has implemented these changes to assist them to achieve their goals,’ Senator Patterson said.