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Thursday, 24 May 2001
Page: 27026

Mr CREAN (2:09 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, didn't you say yesterday that the $300 payment to pensioners—

Mr SPEAKER —The Minister for Foreign Affairs! The Minister for Foreign Affairs knows perfectly well why I have interrupted. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has the call.

Mr CREAN —Treasurer, didn't you say yesterday that the $300 payment to pensioners is an annual payment when it is not? Didn't the Minister for Employment Services say yesterday that disability pensioners would get the $300 when they won't, and he was later forced to correct himself? Why does the government continue to mislead the Australian public, just as it did on the $1,000 payment to the elderly for GST compensation?

Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —I thank the honourable member for his question because, as was announced in the budget two nights ago, the government will be paying a $300 one-off bonus to pensioners and anybody over 65 years of age who is on another kind of pension, including a service pension. So it applies to people who are over 65, as was made entirely clear in my budget speech, as was made entirely clear in the budget papers, as was made entirely clear by the government—in fact, so entirely clear by the government, as I recall, the opposition has been criticising it because it is a one-off payment.

Mr SPEAKER —The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has asked his question. The Treasurer will be heard in silence.

Mr SPEAKER —The Deputy Leader of the Opposition! The Treasurer has the call.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Charlton! The Treasurer has the call.

Mr COSTELLO —Mr Speaker, can I—

Opposition member interjecting—

Mr SPEAKER —I warn the member for Sydney. I withdraw that remark, which was made in error. The member for Gellibrand is aware that she has been warned. The Treasurer has the call.

Mr COSTELLO —Mr Speaker, I thank you for all the good exercise you have been giving my back by making me stand up and sit down. And I thank the Labor Party for its great interest in the $300 pensioner bonus, because we know that the Australian Labor Party, when it increased every wholesale sales tax in this country, when it took away income tax cuts and when it put up petrol indexation by 5c, offered to the pensioners of Australia not one dollar—nothing. Out of the dividends of good economic policy, this government has been able to offer a $300 bonus, and I can inform the House that that law has now passed the Senate and this sum will be paid next month. Every Australian pensioner, every Australian part-pensioner will next month be receiving a $300 bonus, a dividend for good economic policy. And it was the Liberal and National parties that paid it.