Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Pensions to Rise on March 20

Around 3.8 million pensioners and adults receiving income support will benefit from a further rise in the pension and adult allowance rates from 20 March 2004, Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, announced today at the start of Seniors Week.

She said the maximum single rate of the pension will rise by $11.40 to $464.20 a fortnight or $12,069.20 in total. The maximum partnered pension will increase by $9.60 to $387.60 a fortnight or $20,155.20 a year combined.

The rise in pension rates will result in a single pensioner receiving up to an extra $296.40 a year, while each member of a pensioner couple can receive up to an extra $249.60 a year.

Senator Patterson said: “Since the Coalition has been in Government single pensions have increased by over $128 a fortnight and partnered pensions have increased by over $107 a fortnight.”

The Australian Government changed legislation in 1998 to ensure that the real incomes of pensioners were protected, she said.

Senator Patterson said: “The Australian Government legislated to set the single pension rate at least at 25% of Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE), allowing pensioners to share in the improvements in community living standards resulting from higher wages.”

As a result of the change, a single rate pension has increased by $36.40 a fortnight more since 1998 than it would have under the old indexation. The partnered rate of pension has increased by $30.70 a fortnight more.

Senator Patterson said: “This increase is a result of the strong economic management record of the Howard Government, which has seen a sustained period of growth in pension incomes.”

The increase in payment rates will also flow through to higher income and assets cut-off amounts allowing more people to become newly entitled to a pension or allowance.

Allowances to rise include the adult allowance rates of Parenting Payment, Mature Age Allowance, Newstart Allowance, Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance, Special Benefit and Sickness Allowance. Rates to increase include maximum Rent Assistance and Maternity Allowance.