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Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Page: 10816

Mature Age Workers

Ms VAMVAKINOU (Calwell) (15:08): My question is to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Will the minister update the House on the government's support for older Australians who want to stay in the workforce? Minister, what would be the impact of not providing this support?

Ms MACKLIN (JagajagaMinister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) (15:06): I thank the member for Calwell very much for her question. She understands, as everyone on this side of the House understands, that after a lifetime of work older Australians look to the government to make sure that they can get security in their retirement. The government has already delivered historic reforms to the pension. I am very pleased to be able to say to everybody in the chamber today that from today Australian pensioners will be receiving the latest increase to their pensions as a result of our reforms. It is also the case, of course, that we are making sure that the value of people's pensions is protected into the future by the reforms that we have made to indexation. That, too, is reflected in the increases that are flowing to pensioners from today.

The other area that the Assistant Treasurer is responsible for that is very important to older Australians is, of course, the increases and improvements to superannuation that this government intends to make. We believe in superannuation on this side of the parliament, unlike those opposite.

We also know that it is increasingly the case that older Australians do want to do some work, sometimes some part-time work, in their retirement. Sometimes it is because they want to pass on their experience; sometimes it is to add a little bit of cash to their pension; sometimes it is just to keep in touch with the workplace. That, of course, is why this government has introduced a new seniors work bonus that is very positive for older Australians and particularly for those pensioners who want to do some part-time work. What eligible pensioners who are doing some part-time work will now be able to do is keep an extra $250 a fortnight without it being assessed as income under the pension income test. This is a very positive change for pensioners that this side of the parliament has put forward and made sure is there for our pensioners.

We have also made sure that this new seniors work bonus is there to accumulate up to $6,500 over a year so that if pensioners want to do a block of work, say, at the end of the year—it might be marking exams, it might be being a Santa—that they can do that without it affecting their pension. These are all changes that this government has introduced to make sure that pensioners are better off.

In addition, in this year's budget, we also made some changes for mature age workers. There is increased training available for mature age workers.

Opposition members interjecting

Ms MACKLIN: Obviously people over there do not care at all about those unemployed mature age workers who do want a chance to get work. We know that those opposite do not care about mature age workers. We also know that all this Leader of the Opposition can ever do is say no. All he can ever do is say no. We care about the national interest; he only cares about his own interest.