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Senate corrects Vanstone.

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John Faulkner - Senate Corrects Vanstone Tuesday, 07 August 2001

Senate Corrects Vanstone John Faulkner - Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Media Statement - 6 August 2001

The Senate today passed a resolution correcting one of the Government's trickier assertions - that they, and not Labor, fixed the pension through legislation, to 25% of the Male Total Average weekly earning, Senator Faulkner said today.

"This of course is only half the truth - the Howard Government was forced to this position in 1996 by the Opposition because it was clear to Labor that John Howard couldn't be trusted to keep any promises on pensions and benefits to the elderly.

"Labor cemented the benchmark link into legislation through an amendment which was forced on the Government.

"For Senator Vanstone to publicly state on the ABC that Labor was `never prepared to … make sure that pensioners will have 25% of MTAWE' was a bridge too far. And if she couldn't correct this at the earliest possible opportunity, as the John Howard's Ministerial Code of Conduct requires, then the Senate had to correct it for her," Senator Faulkner said.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Faulkner)

The Senate:

(a) notes the false claim made by the Minister for Family and Community Services (Senator Vanstone) on the 7.30 Report on 20 March 2001, that 'Labor was never prepared to… make sure that pensioners will have 25 per cent of male total average weekly earnings';

(b) recalls that it was the Labor Government that introduced the benchmark of 25 per cent of male total average weekly earnings in 1990 and kept the pension above that benchmark at every adjustment between 1990 and 1996;

(c) notes that it was the Howard Government that allowed the standard rate of pension to drop below the 25 per cent benchmark in March 1998;

(d) reminds Senator Vanstone:

(i) that it was the National Commission of Audit (established by the Howard Government on taking office) which, in June 1996, recommended removing this benchmark, and ●

(ii) that it was only when challenged by the Opposition about its intentions in the light of the recommendation by the National Commission of Audit and when threatened in the Senate with an opposition amendment to prevent government backsliding, that the Government agreed to bring forward its own legislation to give the 25 per cent benchmark a legislative basis; and


(e) urges Senator Vanstone to brief herself on the facts, desist from making any further such false claims and take action to correct the public record at the earliest opportunity.

The Motion was passed on the voices. Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.

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