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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Page: 6783


Mr BILLSON (DunkleyMinister for Small Business) (10:06): The budget paper outlines the broad impact of the adjustment to the indexation measure to see it adjusted to the kind of indexation Labor introduced for the family payments arrangement. In no respect, in no way and with no reasonable characterisation is it a cut to anything. What it reflects is an ongoing commitment for a twice-yearly adjustment to our pension rates to give confidence and certainty for those who are reliant upon that income support that it will increase with the cost of living to maintain its buying power into the future. What is crucial about this budget is that it seeks to recognise the importance of the safety net, of the social security system and of the range of programs aimed to properly support the vulnerable, those who have already made their contribution to the economy and those who have particular needs for which we as a generous society should be providing. So in the budget it characterises what the adjustment in the rate of increase will mean in an aggregate sense.

To carry out the analysis that the shadow Treasurer is speaking about, one would need to include all of the ins and outs. I think that the shadow minister would agree that in terms of the average savings to households from the abolition of the carbon tax—something Labor says that it is in favour of terminating but when it comes to this parliament it chooses not to carry through those statements in public—we know that it is on average a $550 benefit. We also know that if Labor continues to obstruct the abolition of the carbon tax, the rate of the carbon tax will actually increase at from 1 July.

So what we have done with this measure is not cut pensions. We have adjusted the rate at which the pension will continue to increase twice annually. We have also left in place the so-called compensation that was available when the carbon tax was implemented. That compensation, important in its terms of an increase to these fortnightly payments, remains. Our ambition is not only to take the carbon tax out and therefore reduce those cost-of-living pressures on households of all types, but also to leave the so-called compensation in place.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Randall ): Order! Sorry, Minister. You cannot just wander around the chamber like that. You should come through the right doors and go to your right seating area. This is not your chamber.

Mr BILLSON: So that is our strategy: take those cost-of-living pressures off households, maintain the buying power of the pensions through an ongoing twice-yearly indexation, change the rate at which it increases and therefore ensure that the very benefits that are important to the vulnerable and to those that have already made their contribution to our nation are in fact not vulnerable themselves because of our inability to finance them into the future.

In summary, I think those relying on the payments that are addressed on page 203 of Budget Paper No. 2 can be confident that their interests have been reflected. The net impact of the adjustment in the rate of increase of those pensions is captured in that table. To delve into a household by household analysis beyond what has already been published would involve a lot of analysis of other measures in the budget that are designed to improve the situation of households, take pressure off the costs of living and help build that strong, safe and secure economy and nation that we are working to achieve.