Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Page: 6073

Mr BIDGOOD (2:02 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. How is the government improving support for carers and, in particular, providing financial security?

Ms MACKLIN (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) —I thank the member for Dawson for his question and for his advocacy on behalf of the 2,600 carers in Dawson. Right around the country, carers, including those in Dawson, are about to receive some additional financial support. From tomorrow around half a million carers will get a new permanent $600 carer supplement, and most of these payments will be made by 26 June. The payment will go to people who are receiving the carer payment, the veterans carer service pension and also those receiving the carer allowance. They will receive $600 for each of the people they care for. Those people who are receiving both the carer payment and the carer allowance can receive two supplement payments. This means that many will receive $1,200 supplements.

Centrelink will make the payments directly into people’s bank accounts. What this does, as I think every single member of this House recognises, is provide important support to those carers who are doing such a fantastic job caring for those people they love. Each of us knows that that does put significant financial pressure on these people and their families. This new carer supplement will provide carers with additional financial security, and it is now a legislated annual supplement—a supplement that carers are going to be able to count on into the future. From 2010 the carer supplement will be paid each July and it will no longer be the case that carers have to hang on government decisions year on year, as they used to in the past.

This new $600 supplement is part of the government’s secure and sustainable pension reform package and, of course, has been widely welcomed by carers around the country. I would just like to share with members of the House, and particularly with the member for Dawson, some remarks made by a carer in his electorate, Pat Norman, from Mackay, who looks after her husband, Ash. Pat is a carer on carer payment and Ash is on the disability support pension. Pat told my office:

We have been waiting for this for so long and these reforms have finally given us the peace of mind and extra support we need. What the government has done by making this a permanent payment is put my mind at ease for the rest of our lives.

From 20 September, Pat and Ash will also benefit from increases to their carer payment and the disability support pension.

We know on this side of the House that these reforms have required very difficult decisions to be made—decisions to make the pension system sustainable for the long term; decisions that the opposition now say that they support but of course did not have the bottle to do in the 12 years they were in government. By contrast, from tomorrow the $600 payment will be made to carers to give them the security that they so deserve.