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Thursday, 4 December 2008
Page: 8182

Senator ARBIB (2:06 PM) —My question is to the minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Evans. Can the minister outline to the Senate how the government’s Economic Security Strategy will deliver extra support to pensioners, carers and working families?

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship) —I thank Senator Arbib for the question. Next week is an important week for Australian pensioners, carers and working families and also for Australia’s economic future. From next Monday, the government’s Economic Security Strategy will deliver $10.4 billion extra into the economy by providing extra support to four million pensioners and 1.9 million families. It is a vital economic strategy to give Australians help with cost-of-living pressures and to sustain economic growth.

The payments to pensioners are a down payment on our pension reforms. The government know that pensioners are doing it tough, so we are providing a down payment to give the pensioners support now. We will make a $4.8 billion down payment through lump sums paid to age pensioners. Single pensioners will get $1,400 each and pensioner couples will get $2,100 per couple. The payments will begin next week, from Monday, 8 December. They will arrive in bank accounts on around the individual’s regular payment date, although not necessarily on the same date.

These payments will provide additional support in the nine months between now and when long-term reforms are introduced from next financial year. That will assist pensioners to cope with cost-of-living pressures, and it will provide a very strong stimulus to the economy. We think it is a win for pensioners and it is a win for the economy, and it builds on the support we provided in our first budget. We think it is a very important part of assisting age pensioners and ensuring that we provide as much stimulus as we can to the Australian economy in these difficult economic times.

Senator ARBIB —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister please provide details of what support will be provided to people with a disability and also to carers?

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship) —Traditionally, under the previous government, disability pensioners missed out on major payments. For the first time, under the Rudd Labor government, disability support pensioners will get a lump sum payment. We recognise that they are also doing it tough. Along with all the other pensioners, people on the disability support pension will get a lump sum payment. We are going to ensure that they get the support they need, both through the COAG reform of disability services and also in terms of financial support.

We also are ensuring that those who receive carers allowance will receive $1,000 for each eligible person being cared for. This marks a recognition of the tremendous work that carers are doing and the stress that they are under, and we think this will assist them to cope. We also acknowledge the great sacrifices that carers make. (Time expired)

Senator ARBIB —Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister now please outline to the Senate which families will receive support as part of the Economic Security Strategy?

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship) —The government’s package will next week deliver to more than 1.9 million families, which support 3.9 million children all around Australia. It is huge package, aimed at supporting families while also providing a stimulus to the economy. Three-quarters of Australian families with dependent children will benefit. It will give them vital help to meet their cost-of-living needs and, as I say, will help stimulate the economy.

Families who receive family tax benefit part A will get a one-off payment of $1,000 for each eligible child in their care—that is $1,000 per child for those on family tax benefit A. Another 190,000 families with dependent children who receive youth allowance or Abstudy or benefit from the veterans’ children’s service scheme will get the $1,000 payment as well. This will go a long way to supporting families and to helping them meet their cost-of-living challenges. (Time expired)