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Wednesday, 1 December 2004
Page: 133

Senator PATTERSON (Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women Issues) (6:34 PM) —As I said, being a purist, you would expect the states to offer these benefits to people, because they offer them to pensioners. These people get benefits from us through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and other medical assistance. Because the states did not do it, we felt that there was a considerable disparity. One jurisdiction is giving over $900 in concessions to pensioners, some of whom have quite reasonable assets and income and still qualify for a part pension and therefore qualify for those concessions. Now take a self-funded retiree who does not qualify, who considers that they have contributed all their life. We believe this is a down payment to that commitment we made in 2001. As I said before, it still does not reach, particularly when you add the $100 per pensioner couple in the supplement. Even a couple receiving two lots of $200 annually does not exceed the assistance of $450-odd plus $100 that pensioners will now get, where the concession of $100 is as a pensioner couple.