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Thursday, 12 March 2009
Page: 2569

Ms MARINO (9:55 AM) —I rise to call on the government to increase the base rate of the age pension in the 2009 budget by responsibly managing our economy and without making others pay for their failure to manage the economy. Age pensioners—the more than 800,000 age pensioners who were ignored in the Rudd government’s first budget—need an increase in their pensions. Pensioners have very rightly been extremely angry ever since, something that I am constantly dealing with in my electorate. I have met very many of the 12,762 age pensioners in my electorate of Forrest. These people are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a reasonable standard of living. Their pensions are simply not keeping pace with the increased costs of living.

As I said, seniors must receive an increase to their pensions in the 2009 budget. However, I note that the Labor government is now planning to scrap the Medicare safety net, there may be increases in nursing home fees and we may see superannuation become more expensive. These are all obviously measures to fund the pension increases that may come in the budget—measures needed because of the government’s failure to manage the economy.

In September 2008, the coalition introduced legislation to increase the single rate pension and the Senate voted in support of the increase to help pensioners manage constantly increasing costs of living. Pensioners have had to manage increases in rent, petrol, groceries, energy and, most importantly—for those who can just manage to afford it—the security of private health cover, something that is very important to seniors and age pensioners. Some of the pensioners who I have met go without other basic needs in their lives just so that they can afford to pay for the security of private health cover. Given the stage of their lives, private health cover is one of the most important issues for them. Many in their senior years are desperate to retain their private health cover and increased premium costs can mean that they have to go without other essential items in their lives.

I met with Jeff Irwin and his group at Elouera nursing home, a group that asked me to come and talk to them about the many increases in costs that they were facing and why they were finding it increasingly difficult to afford the basics of life. They talked about not being able to go out because they could not afford petrol. They relied on others to come and pick them up. I therefore call on the government to increase the age pension in the 2009 budget through sound management of our economy, not by making others pay for the government’s mismanagement and the Rudd recession.