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Wednesday, 22 October 2008
Page: 9920

Ms NEAL (2:44 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Ageing. How is the government’s Economic Security Strategy helping older Australians who are facing increased pressure due to the rising costs of living?

Mrs ELLIOT (Minister for Ageing) —I thank the member for Robertson for her question. I know what a strong interest she has in supporting our older Australians. The government are continuing to deliver for our older Australians, because we understand how tough they are doing it. This government has taken very swift and decisive action in its Economic Security Strategy. This is about helping older Australians facing the rising costs of living.

Last week our $10.4 billion Economic Security Strategy included assistance for four million pensioners, carers and seniors. It is an immediate $4.8 billion down payment on long-term pension reform, with the one-off tax-free payments of a lump sum of $1,400 for a single age pensioner or $2,100 for a couple. People who are receiving carer allowance will also receive $1,000 for each eligible person being cared for. All payments will be made in the fortnight beginning 8 December. This builds on the $7.5 billion in additional support for pensioners and carers that the government provided for in our first budget. The budget provided a whole range of measures for older Australians, including increasing the utilities allowance, the seniors bonus, the telephone allowance and also national transport concessions. We are committed to long-term pension reform through a very thorough, comprehensive review.

The decisive action shown in the Economic Security Strategy builds on providing for older Australians in other areas, particularly the $41.5 billion being provided over the next four years to aged and community care. This means an average of $41,500 a resident a year. Indeed, no government in Australian history has provided more when it comes to aged care. When we look at the ageing of our population, we see that we have the world’s second longest life expectancy. We have currently got nearly 3,000 Australians aged 100 and over and by the year 2055 we are going to have 78,000 Australians aged 100 and over.

We are also supporting older Australians and their carers who want to stay in their homes for as long as possible. On Monday I announced $12 million in national grants to improve respite services for carers. This is part of our $194 million National Respite for Carers Program. Carers are the unsung heroes of our nation, and I pay tribute to them. We are a government meeting the challenges of the 21st century, and we are very proud to be providing for our older Australians.

Mr Randall —Mr Speaker, I ask that the minister table the answer that she read, please.

The SPEAKER —Is the member for Canning asking whether the minister will table a document she was reading from?

Mr Randall —Yes.

The SPEAKER —Was the minister quoting from a document? Is the document confidential?

Mrs ELLIOT —Yes.