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Monday, 22 June 2009
Page: 6714


Ms JACKSON (3:59 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Will the minister update the House on the government’s secure and sustainable pension reforms to support pensioners and on any responses?


Ms MACKLIN (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) —I thank the member for Hasluck for being such a great advocate of behalf of 16,500 pensioners in her electorate and the more than 2,000 carers on top of that. She is doing a fantastic job on behalf of those pensioners and carers. She and everybody else on this side of the House know that this week more than half a million carers are receiving their first permanent instalment of the new carer supplement. It has started being paid to those carers and most of those payments will be made by the end of this week. Of course, 3.3 million pensioners—age pensioners, carers, disability pensioners, wife pensioners—and veterans are all going to benefit from this government’s pension reforms, reforms which the previous government ignored for the whole time they were in office. We know that those opposite enjoyed playing that political stunt at the end of last year but even in their political stunt they were determined to campaign to exclude around two million pensioners—married pensioners, carers, disability support pensioners—not caring at all about all of those pensioners who have been doing it tough for so long.

It is not only that for 12 long years those opposite ignored the needs of pensioners; what we find now is that those opposite, the coalition members, are now engaged in a campaign of deception to frighten pensioners about these reforms—another campaign of deception. The opposition, as we see day after day in this parliament, say one thing while they are in Canberra and another thing entirely when they are out in their communities. What this leads to is that you cannot believe a word they say. Just listen to this from the community newsletter put out by Senator Fiona Nash. She says about the pension rights, ‘It’s not all good news seniors. The utilities allowance, which helps seniors with their bills, has been abolished.’ Completely false—Senator Nash knows it is completely false and the Leader of the Opposition knows this is completely false. They know that the full value of the utilities allowance is being wound into the new pension supplement and increased. The shadow minister opposite last week even called it ‘sensible’, but out there Senator Fiona Nash and other members of the opposition are spreading this misinformation and needlessly scaring pensioners to make a political point. Has the Leader of the Opposition done anything to pull his members into line, to make sure they tell pensioners the truth about what is going on? Has he apologised to pensioners for misleading them? Of course he has not. He does not come in here and tell anyone what has happened to this fake email and he does not have the courage to tell pensioners what is actually going on. As is becoming so obvious, this Leader of the Opposition does nothing. He does not care about pensioners; he does not care whether he needlessly scares pensioners; all that he is on about is his own political hide.