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$300 budget bonus clawback!

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Wayne Swan - $300 Budget Bonus Clawback! Monday, 28 May 2001

$300 Budget Bonus Clawback!

Wayne Swan - Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services

Media Statement - 27 May 2001

True to Howard Government form, it has been discovered pensioners who receive the $300 one off bonus next month risk having it 'clawed back' by an ongoing reduction in pension payments each fortnight.

A pensioner couple could lose around $2 per fortnight in pension payments - $50 per year.

In total, the Howard Government could claw back up to $3 million.

While the payment is tax exempt and pension income test exempt, the fine print of the Government's $300 bonus has confirmed that it is not exempt from the pension assets test.

The legislation for the payment was rushed through the Parliament by the Government late last week under threat that delay would mean pensioners wouldn't receive it next month.

But now it appears the haste was just to avoid proper scrutiny.

The detail of the legislation shows the Government failed to lift the assets test thresholds by the amount of the bonus payment.

As a result, pensioners who are paid under the assets test face having their pensions reduced if the bonus remains in savings.

For a pensioner couple who were hoping to keep their bonus payments for later - say; presents for Christmas, or a holiday - their pension could be docked around $2 per fortnight ongoing.

For a single pensioner the clawback could amount to around $1 per fortnight ongoing.

Around 120,000 pensioners who are paid under the assets test risk having their bonus clawed back.

This latest revelation shows the Howard still cannot be trusted to honour its promises to older Australians.

Whatever the Government says it gives with one hand - it's sure to claw back with the other.

Labor calls on the Government to immediately lift the assets test thresholds by the amount of the bonus to ensure no pensioner has this additional GST compensation clawed back. Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.

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