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Monday, 22 June 2009
Page: 3869

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) (3:28 PM) —I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

That the provisions of paragraphs (5) to (8) of standing order 111 not apply to the Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Pension Reform and Other 2009 Budget Measures) Bill 2009, allowing it to be considered during this period of sittings.

I also table a statement of reasons justifying the need for this bill to be considered during these sittings and seek leave to have the statement incorporated into Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows—


Purpose of the Bill

The bill introduces a range of measures from the 2009 Budget, including measures from the Government’s Secure and Sustainable Pension Reforms package.  The measures in the bill include the following:

  • increases to pension rates;
  • structural reforms and simplifications, such as providing a new pension supplement and a new seniors supplement to replace a variety of current entitlements;
  • revised pension indexation and benchmarking arrangements using, in part, a new Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index to complement the Consumer Price Index;
  • revised pension income test arrangements;
  • revised indexation and benchmarking arrangements for certain family tax benefit rates and maternity immunisation allowance;
  • provide for adjusted taxable income for the Commonwealth seniors health card to include income salary sacrificed to superannuation; and
  • exclude amounts received under certain Western Australian programs from the social security and veterans’ affairs income test starting on 1 July 2009 and ending on 30 June 2012.

Reasons for Urgency

The FTB rates indexation and benchmarking measure is to commence on 30 June 2009 so that the current indexation arrangements that would otherwise occur on 1 July 2009 do not occur.  The measures relating to the Commonwealth seniors health card and the income exclusion for certain Western Australian payments are to commence on 1 July 2009 as part of the Budget strategy.  Passage in the 2009 Winter sittings would enable these measures to be achieved.

Most remaining measures are to commence on 20 September 2009.  To allow the measures to be implemented on that date, Centrelink will need to implement IT processing by the major release scheduled for the weekend of 22 and 23 August 2009.  As such, those measures need to be passed by Thursday 20 August 2009, and enacted by Friday 21 August 2009.

Progressing the bill with top priority during the 2009 Winter sittings will enable the relevant deadlines to be met, thus delivering important and long-awaited increased support to Australian pensioners.