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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7137

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP (Mackellar) (19:00): I refer first to the phase-out of the personal income tax mature-age worker tax offset. Minister, why did the government decide to phase out this incentive for workers to remain in the workforce? Was it simply cost-cutting? Did it have some philosophical base? It replaced policies that had been put in place by the Howard government, so I would like an answer to that.

Also I ask about the tripling of the tax-free threshold family tax benefit and the Commonwealth seniors health card, where the government claims that over four years Commonwealth seniors health card recipients will no longer have to fill out required paperwork to access the card. I would like the minister to explain why that is claimed as a benefit when the majority of people who are receiving the Commonwealth seniors health card do not pay tax in the first place, and those that do are in defined benefit schemes. I note that the Treasurer said on the issue of tripling the tax-free threshold:

For me, what’s particularly pleasing is that this tax relief is being delivered through an important reform: the tripling of the tax-free threshold.

Of course, it does not affect those who are paying no tax at all.

I would also like to know why, given that the government is using particularly the carbon tax as well as the MRRT to introduce the new tax-free threshold, you are now dressing this up as a benefit to seniors when their disposable income is being attacked. How many Commonwealth seniors health card recipients does the government actually expect will no longer need to fill out the required paperwork to access that card?

Finally, I turn to changing the Australian working life residency provisions from 25 to 35 years. Was this done merely as a money-saving exercise or is there any underpinning philosophical reason or good public policy reason? Did the government factor in the number of women who may not have worked in Australia but have reared their children during this time? These women may have no superannuation and may not have permanent housing either. How many people will be affected by this change to eligibility? What will the cost be to government to support those who have been left unsupported by the changes?