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Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Sun Herald and Channel 10 Claims on Pensions Wrong

Unsourced claims published in the Sun Herald today and subsequently reported on the Ten Network used incorrect figures.

“Claims of a $35.00 per fortnight cost of living impact for pensioners as result of The New Tax System are completely spurious”, the Minister for Community Services
Larry Anthony said today.

“Figures in the document Tax Reform – Not A New Tax, A New Tax System, (which included food that was subsequently made GST free and would have exerted a downward impact on the CPI) showed that the maximum impact that the GST could have on a single age pensioner with a private income of up to $25,000 was $14.40 a fortnight and $26.60 for an age pensioner couple with a private income of up to $45,000.

“The suggestion that the current compensation will be reduced by $8.00 per fortnight on 20 March 2001 is also wrong. The true position is that on 20 March 2001, single pensioners will receive an increase of $7.90 and couples will receive $13.20, bringing the overall increase since 1 July 2000 to a total of $30.00 a fortnight for single pensioners and $50.00 for couples.

Taking the maximum possible cost of living impact into account, these increases are approximately double the respective maximum cost of living increases due to the GST, which are now even less with the exclusion of food.

Any suggestion that pensioners will lose after cost of living adjustments are added on 20 March is totally wrong,” Mr Anthony said.

“On 20 March 2001, all pensions will be increased. Any suggestion that there will be a reduction is completely wrong.

“In addition, this Government increased the pension income and assets test free areas for older Australians, meaning more people are now eligible for a pension. We eased the income test so that pensioners now keep more of their pension.

“This Government introduced legislation to ensure pensions keep pace with improvements in living standards as measured by wages and has guaranteed that pensions will always remain two per cent ahead of cost of living increases.

“Pensioners should not be unnecessarily worried in this way.” Mr Anthony said.