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Monday, 3 June 2013
Page: 4973


Ms SMYTH (La Trobe) (17:58): It is a pleasure to be able to ask some questions of the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing and Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney-General this evening. At the outset I should like to congratulate him on his elevation to the roles. I know that he has obviously been a very committed local member, and I think he will do extremely well. Indeed, he is doing extremely well in the roles.

The questions I would like to inquire about this evening relate to the circumstances of older Australians. I note that the parliamentary secretary has made reference to some of the initiatives already being rolled out for the benefit of senior Australians right across the country, and I am particularly interested in my electorate. I should note for the benefit of members here this evening that there are some 17,600 pensioners and around 1,400 self-funded retirees in the electorate of La Trobe who are already benefiting from a boost to their incomes through pension increases, through tax cuts and through the seniors supplement, so there are very practical ways in which this government is delivering financial support to senior Australians right across the country and certainly in my electorate.

I know that this government has been focused across a range of portfolios—not just Human Services but a range of portfolios—in delivering not only financial independence but actual independence in terms of the choices for retirement living and access to modern communications through the NBN and Broadband for Seniors. All of these things are part of a holistic package of measures which are aimed at ensuring that senior Australians—and with an ageing population, we certainly need to pay increasing regard to the demographic of senior Australians—continue to have a very good quality of life; the kind of quality of life that they deserve; the kind of financial support that they deserve; and the capacity to continue to have a very productive and active life into their senior years.

In my electorate I have been able to speak to many representatives and organisations such as the Emerald U3A—the University of the Third Age—which is all about ensuring that senior Australians continue to take up the opportunities for education that are available to them and continue to be active in our community. I had the opportunity to be with one of our ministers talking about the historic pension increases that this government has delivered and the additional financial support that has been given to senior Australians and self-funded retirees with the Commonwealth healthcare card through the packages of measures that we have advanced over the last five years.

I have also had the opportunity to hear firsthand from pensioners and other seniors in my own electorate through the Knox U3A, as we discussed things like retirement options and aged-care options. It is certainly of interest to them that this government continues to provide such support financially and through other means to that group. Accordingly, this evening I am very pleased to be able to ask the parliamentary secretary to provide a bit more information about the means by which the government—particularly through the Department of Human Services—is supporting older Australians to live better and in a smarter, stronger and fairer future.