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Delivering for seniors.
Delivering for seniors
Julia Gillard posted Saturday, 7 August 2010
Older Australians have made our nation strong and prosperous, and deserve to be supported in their later years - whether in work, retirement or in their caring roles. Federal Labor’s Delivering for Seniors package will support and encourage older Australians in the workforce, tackle age discrimination, support grandparent carers and help meet the costs of living. Our Delivering for Seniors package is a key part of our economic plan. It includes:
$6,500 improved Work Bonus for age pensioners who choose to do part time work.
$4,000 worth of training to support mature age workers in the workplace.
A dedicated Age Discrimination Commissioner.
New peer support for Grandparent Carers.
New rules for reverse mortgages to protect seniors.
The Federal Labor Party has always stood for fairness for older Australians. The Delivering for Seniors package builds upon our first term achievements that include the biggest reforms to the age pension in more than a hundred years. Our pension reforms have driven increases for pensioners now worth an extra $100 a fortnight for single pensioner and an extra $74 for couples combined. We also increased the Utilities Allowance by $400 to help meet the costs of electricity and other essentials. Federal Labor has delivered increased support for selfâfunded retirees - including a new Seniors Supplement now worth $795 a year. And we delivered a national transport concessions scheme to give State Seniors Card holders concessions when they travel interstate. Our historic superannuation reforms will boost superannuation for hard working Australians, giving more financial security in retirement. Our Delivering for Seniors package will build on this record through $100 million in new commitments.
Improved work bonus for pensioners Many age pensioners take on part time and occasional work and should be encouraged and rewarded for these valuable contributions to our community. A reâelected Gillard Labor Government will introduce a new, more generous Work Bonus for age pensioners from 1 July 2011. Hard working pensioners will now be able to keep up $6,500 of the money they earn from part time work each year. This benefit can be ‘annualised’ to especially help with seasonal work. Many age pensioners want to undertake seasonal or contract work but are concerned about the impact on their pension. These reforms will increase the amount an age pensioner can earn before it affects their pension. Under these changes, the Work Bonus can be ‘annualised’. That is, pensioners will now be able to build up any unused amount of their $250 bonus every fortnight for up to 12 months, totalling $6,500. A pensioner could then earn up to $6,500 a year extra without it affecting their pension. The Work Bonus allows pensioners to keep more of the money they earn from partâtime work. It disregards an amount of employment income from the pension income test. Pensioners will be able to accumulate any unused Work Bonus each fortnight they don’t work, allowing this ‘bank’ to offset more earnings when they do work. Pensioners would be able to accrue up to $250 a fortnight into a ‘bank,’ totalling $6,500 over 12 months. Unused amount can carry forward between years, up to a total of $6,500. This is on top of the pension income free area - worth $146 per fortnight for singles, equivalent to $3,976 a year. The new Work Bonus will allow a pensioner to earn up to $6,500 at any time during the year without it affecting their pension. This could be regular work each fortnight or, for example, over a six week period before Christmas when demand for casual labour increases. The Work Bonus will also be improved by disregarding every dollar of income up to $250 a fortnight, rather than the 50 cents in each of the first $500 arrangement that currently exists. Analysis of pension income has shown that more pensioners would benefit by a straight dollar for dollar reduction. All pensioners who work will benefit from these improvements. For example, an age pensioner earning $400 a fortnight currently has half of their income disregarded ($200) under the Work Bonus so that only $200 is assessed as income under the pension income test. Under the improved Work Bonus, a full $250 will be disregarded, and only
$150 assessed, so they will keep an extra $50 of their earnings a fortnight. For an age pensioner who only works for six weeks a year, earning $1,250 a fortnight, they will be able to ‘bank’ their Work Bonus. When they do work, they could disregard the full $3,750 they earn in that six week period. These changes will benefit around 30,000 age pensioners each year, with an average benefit for those who work of just under $100 a fortnight in increased pension payments. This will cost $94.3 million over the forward estimates. The Work Bonus was introduced as part of the 2009 pension reforms. More help for mature aged workers Seniors have much to offer Australian workplaces. We need to encourage more Australian employers to appreciate the extra benefits that older workers bring to workplace, such as a strong sense of loyalty, experience, reliability and an extra depth of insight. We want to help mature age workers get the skills needed to stay employable. A reâelected Gillard Labor Government will dedicate $30 million in additional funding to the Experience Plus program, to deliver more workplace based training for mature age workers aged over 50. This additional funding for Experience Plus will allow for significant upâskilling of up to 7,500 mature age workers. The measure forms part of the highly successful early ‘Enterprise Based’ streams of Federal Labor’s Productivity Places Program. Organisations with mature age workers will be able to submit proposals under the Experience Plus program for recognition of prior learning, and funding for training to up skill. Funding will be provided through existing uncommitted funds in the Productivity Places Program that is already provided from in the budget. This builds on Federal Labor’s earlier $43 million investment to support older Australians who want to stay in the workforce through quality job training and mentoring of young Australians. Tackling age discrimination A reâelected Gillard Labor Government will create a standalone Age Discrimination Commissioner as a dedicated advocate for the rights of older Australians in the community and industry and to handle complaints under the Age Discrimination Act. We need more employers and the broader community to appreciate the important qualities and
skills older Australians bring to the workplace and public life. A standalone Age Discrimination Commissioner will provide a dedicated Commissioner exercising full functions under the Age Discrimination Act to tackle age discrimination in our workplaces and our community. These include discrimination in getting job or applying for a promotion, enrolling at a TAFE or university, apply to rent a house, or using services such as at a bank, superannuation fund, insurance companies, and government services. From 1 July 2011, we will provide $3 million over the forward estimates in additional funding to the Australian Human Rights Commission to support this position. Supporting grandparent carers The Gillard Labor Government will provide $900,000 to establish a national network of peer support groups for grandparent carers. Grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren make enormous sacrifices. Across Australia, there are more than 14,000 families where grandparents are the primary carers of children. Twentyâfive peer support groups will be established around the country for grandparent carers to meet, share information and experiences and support each other. A reâelected Gillard Labor Government will also establish dedicated grandparent advisors in selected Centrelink offices. These advisors will improve grandparent carers’ access to Centrelink payments and services, and provide information and referral to other government and community services. Greater protection on reverse mortgages Federal Labor also recognises that special protections are needed for older Australians who are using equity in their homes to gain access to credit. Through reforms to our banking regulation and credit laws, Federal Labor will provide greater protection to older Australians through:
Extended protection for reverse mortgages and home reversion schemes, including greater disclosure of the features and fees on these products.
A statutory protection against negative equity so consumers aren’t left with a debt significantly greater than the value of their property.
Federal Labor’s trackârecord of delivering for seniors Our Delivering for Seniors reforms build on the substantial reforms Federal Labor has delivered for older Australians. These include:
A record pension increase as part of our pension reforms, now worth over $100 a fortnight for singles and $74 for couples.
New indexation arrangements so the pension better keeps up with the cost of living including a new Pension Living Cost Index and increasing wages benchmark from 25 per cent to 27.7 per cent of male total average weekly earnings.
Incentives for those aged over 50 to save for their retirement including raising the Superannuation Guarantee age limit from 1 July 2013 and doubling concessional superannuation contribution limits (contribution caps) from 1 July 2012 for Australians aged 50 and over to $50,000, for those with total superannuation balance under $500,000.
Economic stimulus payments of $1,400 for singles and $2,100 for couples to provide extra support to pensioners and self funded retirees who are on the Commonwealth Seniors Health card.
A simpler and more flexible pension system including a new Pension Supplement that can be taken monthly or quarterly.
Increasing Utilities Allowance by $400 to provide support with the increasing cost of gas, water and electricity.
National transport concessions so that State Seniors Card holders get concessions when they travel interstate.
A new $795 Seniors Supplement for selfâfunded retirees who have a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
A national Broadband for Seniors program that has provided seniors with access to the internet and information technology resources through more than 900 kiosks around the country.
Streamlining Centrelink’s Age Pension transfer form to make it easier for more than 50,000 Centrelink customers a year to switch from an income support payment to Age Pension when they reach the qualifying age.
A Gillard Labor Government is committed to a strong and secure economy so we can provide services to the community such as worldâclass hospitals and aged care facilities. For 12 years in Government the Coalition failed older Australians
The Coalition knew that pensioners were doing it tough but they did nothing. At a time when the mining boom was delivering windfall revenue to the nation, Tony Abbott was part of a LiberalâNational Cabinet that rejected a proposal to increase the single pension. Even Peter Costello says that Tony Abbott does not understand the economy. A LiberalâNational Coalition Government would mean higher cost of living pressures for seniors and pensioners. Mr Abbott wants to make pensioners pay higher grocery prices to pay for his unfair paid parental leave scheme. While pensioners are doing it tough, Tony Abbott wants to give high income earners up to $75,000 in paid parental leave over six months - that’s eight times more than a single pensioner receives in the same six months. Tony Abbott will scrap our superannuation reforms, risking the financial security of older Australians. Mr Abbott doesn’t have the judgement necessary to be Prime Minister, he doesn’t have a plan for the economy, and his grocery tax will make cost of living pressures worse for senior Australians. Funding for this commitment will be fully offset over the forward estimates, consistent with the Gillard Labor Government’s commitment to return the budget to surplus in three years.