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Monday, 22 September 2008
Page: 8077

Mr TURNBULL (3:03 PM) —My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Why is the government spending $40 million to win a temporary seat on the UN Security Council yet rejecting the much-needed $30 a week increase in the single age pension?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —As of three months ago, the Leader of the Opposition said he had no policy to increase the pension at all. I would suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that consistency is a good thing in politics; I would suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that, in the 12 years they had in office to act on the age pension in any fundamental way, they failed to do so. Secondly, in the course of the last budget we virtually doubled the additional increase to pensioners as a consequence of our increase to the utilities allowance, and we have of course in process the review, which those opposite supported, coming out of the Senate inquiry. I would suggest that, when he sat in the cabinet together with many of those on the current front bench—and perhaps those currently on the back bench as well, including the member for Higgins—if their passion had been so deep to act on the age pension 12 months ago, they could have done so. They failed to do so, and the opportunism in their current politics on this is there, clear-cut, for all to see.