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Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Page: 8425

Mr TURNBULL (Leader of the Opposition) (2:08 PM) —My question is addressed to the Acting Prime Minister. Now that internal government documents reveal that the government considered and rejected a $30 a week increase in the base rate of the pension in April this year, does the Acting Prime Minister stand by the government’s description of an extra $30 a week as a ‘stunt’ and a ‘ploy’? Acting Prime Minister, who is engaged in hypocrisy now?

Ms GILLARD (Acting Prime Minister) —I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question. Firstly, can I say to the Leader of the Opposition that the document which I take him to be referring to—a document that has been in the media—is not a document that can be characterised in the way that he has characterised it. This is a document which summarised stakeholder views. Yes, there were a variety of views, and we know that there are pensioner organisations pushing for an increase in the base rate of the pension. None of that is new. This is a document that canvassed stakeholder views and a document that concluded that this was a complex matter and required a comprehensive and thorough-going review.

On the question of hypocrisy, which I have been invited to comment upon, can I say to the Leader of the Opposition that it is for him to explain to the Australian people why he ruled out an increase in the base rate of the pension as Liberal Party policy in May this year only now to engage in the questioning that he is engaging in in this parliament—a fundamental shift in the Leader of the Opposition’s position from May this year until he assumed the opposition leader’s chair. We know of course that, when he was shadow Treasurer, he ruled out the very policy he now says that he stands for.