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Thursday, 13 March 2008
Page: 1794

Ms HALL (9:58 AM) —I want to place on record my absolute disgust at the opposition raising concerns and anxiety among carers and pensioners about whether or not they are going to get paid a bonus this year. To put this into context, this was not an issue until it was raised by the other side of the chamber. The budget is to be brought down in May. There was nothing in the forward estimates in relation to the carers payment. It has always been considered and announced at the time of the budget.

I consider that it was absolutely hypocritical of members of the opposition to stand up in the parliament and ask question after question about this issue when, in the information that they took to the people of Australia they said that they would consider, if re-elected, paying the bonus—and of course that was dependent on economic conditions. There has been speculation driven by the opposition, and the absolute hypocrisy of it really leaves me cold. It just demonstrates how heartless members of the opposition are, in that they are prepared to use carers and pensioners, the most vulnerable people in our community, as pawns to get across their political message and to get some time in the media.

Carers play a very valuable role in our community. Without the work of carers, without their dedication and the endless time that they give to the people that they love and care for and have made a commitment to over a long period of time, we as a nation would be a much poorer place. That members on the other side of this House are prepared to create anxiety and fear and to use carers in the way that they have used them over the last two weeks is an absolute disgrace.

The carers bonus has been in place for four years. The pension bonus was given last year and, to be quite frank, I feel it was just a bribe by the then government and now opposition to pensioners to say, ‘Vote for us and we will consider giving you this bonus next year.’ I put on the record that I condemn members of the opposition for the fear and anxiety that they have created in our community and the impact that this has had on the lives of carers and pensioners. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms AE Burke)—During members’ statements, the member for Parramatta tabled a petition. The document will be forwarded to the Standing Committee on Petitions for its consideration and will be accepted, subject to confirmation by the committee that it conforms with standing orders. In accordance with standing order 193, the time for members’ statements has concluded.