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Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Page: 3375

Age Pension

(Question No. 958)

Ms Sharkie asked the Minister for Social Services, in writing, on 28 March 2018:

(1) In 2018 will the Government raise the Commonwealth Rent Assistance payment for recipients of the Age Pension by more than the ordinary indexation rate; if so, by how much; if not, why not. (2) Will the Government (a) advise if it has considered establishing an independent tribunal to assess the base rate of the Age Pension to determine the best mechanism for annual review, and (b) establish such a tribunal. (3) Will the Government (a) advise if it has considered establishing a roundtable (or similar) to review services to people on the Age Pension, and (b) establish such a roundtable.

Mr Tehan: The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

Rates of pension and Rent Assistance are calculated according to provisions in social security legislation.

Base pensions are indexed twice a year, in March and September, to the higher of the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the increase in the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index.

After indexing to price increases, base pension rates are then benchmarked to 41.76 per cent of Male Total Average Weekly Earnings for pensioner couples combined. The single rate of pension is two-thirds of the combined couple rate.

Rent Assistance is indexed on 20 March and 20 September to increases in the CPI.

The Australian Government considers a wide range of policy options. It does not disclose the contents of these deliberations.

The Government needs to balance a range of competing priorities when determining the direction of policy. It is committed to maintaining a strong safety net for all Australians who need help and cannot support themselves.