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Tuesday, 27 November 2018
Page: 11622

Pensions and Benefits


Mr TED O'BRIEN (Fairfax) (15:09): My question is to the Minister for Families and Social Services. Will the minister update the House on how a strong economy helps the government support Australians through our social security and welfare system that provides the essential services that families and elderly Australians rely on? Are there different alternatives, and what are their consequences?


Mr FLETCHER (BradfieldMinister for Families and Social Services) (15:10): I thank the member for Fairfax for his question. As he knows, on this side of the House, we are delivering the services that families rely on and we are delivering the services that older Australians rely on. We are delivering those services because of a strong economy and a strong budget.

If you look at the measures that we are introducing this week to give older Australians more choice and more options, you'll see we're extending the pension work bonus from $250 a fortnight to $300 a fortnight. That's a greater amount you can earn before your pension is affected. We're extending that option to self-employed pensioners, and the result is that more than 90,000 people will get increased payments. That is an extra burden on the budget, but it's a burden we can afford because of our good management of the budget and because of a strong economy.

We've announced that we're expanding the Pension Loans Scheme to offer pensioners the option of higher payments through borrowing against their home and receiving a convenient fortnightly payment through Centrelink. Through a combination of their pension payment and a loan payment, they can receive up to 150 per cent of the full pension, or $1,374 a fortnight for a single pensioner. That's more choice and more options for older Australians, and we're able to deliver that because of our strong management of the economy and of the budget. Of course, we're also providing new options for seniors through a fairer assets test for pooled lifetime retirement income streams. Since we've been elected, the pension has increased by $107.90 per fortnight for singles and $162.60 per fortnight for couples. That's been achieved because of a strong budget and strong fiscal management.

Compare by contrast a very different message for older Australians from Labor. When Labor are in government, they always lose control of the budget. It happens time after time, and they always have to wind back on the capacity to deliver services because they run out of the capacity to fund them. What is their message for older Australians who have saved to acquire a modest parcel of shares: 'We're coming to take away your franking credit refunds.' That's Labor taking away benefits from older Australians. On this side of the House, we are delivering for older Australians and we are delivering for families because of strong budget management.

Mr Morrison: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.