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Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Page: 10083

Pensions and Benefits

Ms VAMVAKINOU (Calwell) (15:08): Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Minister, how is the government delivering on its commitments to support pensioners to balance their budgets? What risks are there to this support? How is the government responding?

The SPEAKER: The last two parts of that question are out of order. I will allow the first part.

Ms MACKLIN (JagajagaMinister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) (15:09): I thank the member for Calwell very much for her question because she knows that this government is determined to continue to implement the commitments we have made to put a price on carbon pollution and the commitments we have made, and continue to make, to pensioners to support them and help them meet their household budgets.

It is the big polluters and not Australian pensioners who are going to have to pay for the pollution that those big polluters put into our atmosphere. We are delivering a real and permanent increase to the pension. Under our plan to put a price on pollution, Australia's 3.4 million pensioners will receive assistance that more than covers their average expected price increases. Australia's 3.4 million pensioners will get that extra assistance as a result of the legislation that this government has introduced into the parliament. Pensioners will receive both the clean energy advance and a clean energy supplement to make sure that they get ongoing assistance. That assistance will be worth $338 a year for singles and $255 a year for each member of a couple. It will be the case that both the pension and the clean energy supplement will be indexed to make sure that pensioners can keep up with the cost of living.

As the member for Calwell and everybody on this side of the parliament knows, this builds on the very significant increases to the pension that we have delivered since 2009. From next Tuesday, 20 September, pensioners in Australia can expect to get another increase to their pension as a result of improved indexation that this government has delivered as a result of the major reforms we have put in place.

What we know, unfortunately, is that the Liberals in New South Wales—

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister should be very careful. She is now wandering past the part of the question that I allowed.

Ms MACKLIN: It is absolutely relevant to what we are doing for pensioners because, as the Speaker may recall, the Prime Minister put a request to the premiers and chief ministers of Australia asking them to make sure that the pension rise that we put in place in 2009 stayed in the purses and wallets of pensioners, that it was not gobbled up in the increased public housing rents. Unfortunately, it is the case that last week the New South Wales Premier announced that he is reneging on that agreement and they are increasing public housing rents.

The SPEAKER: The minister will now bring her answer to a conclusion.

Ms MACKLIN: They are now increasing public housing rents for 68,000 pensioners in New South Wales.