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Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Page: 8229


Mrs HULL (2:24 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. If it is good enough for the Prime Minister to go overseas and announce $35 million for a hybrid car that was already going to be built here, what would prevent the Prime Minister from making an announcement in New York to increase the single pension by $30 a week?


Ms MACKLIN (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) —I thank the member for Riverina for her question. This is a very important issue and one which the government takes seriously. What we are not doing is playing the sort of low-rent politics that we have seen from the other side. What the Treasurer actually announced in the budget was a significant increase in the utilities allowance. Under the previous government the utilities allowance was only $107. The Treasurer increased the utilities allowance in his first budget to $500, and he decided that it would be paid quarterly. So, in this fortnight, pensioners are going to receive their third quarterly instalment of the utilities allowance—$128 will go into their bank accounts in this fortnight. The second thing the Treasurer decided to do in relation to the utilities allowance was to extend it to carers and people on the disability support pension. This was never done in 12 years by those opposite but has been done by this Treasurer in his first budget. The third thing the Treasurer did in his first budget was extend the bonus. A bonus of $500 was paid to age pensioners in this federal budget. All of this actually cost the federal budget $7.2 billion. That is what we are doing.