Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Questions without Notice
Pensions and Benefits
I thank the member for Isaacs for his question, in particular on behalf of the 5,000 disability support pensioners and around 1,000 people on the carer payment in his electorate. As he knows, the government certainly does support people with a disability and carers. In the pension increases which were announced in last year’s budget, we delivered a pension rise to around 700,000 people on the disability support pension and around 150,000 carers on the carer payment. All of them received an increase of just over $70 a fortnight for singles on the maximum rate. From this Saturday these pensioners will also receive another increase as a result of indexation. If you add together the budget rise and this coming indexation rise, pensioners who are disability support pensioners and those on the carer payment will receive an increase of around $100 compared to August last year. That has been an important increase for both carers and people on the disability support pension. Carers will also receive the new $600 annual carer supplement.
These are some of the most vulnerable people in our community, and these are the people who will end up paying the Leader of the Opposition’s great big new tax. It is these pensioners who will pay more for a loaf of bread or a litre of milk. We have to go no further than the shadow finance spokesperson, Barnaby Joyce, who very helpfully today confirmed on ABC radio that, as the Treasurer has previously indicated, it will be the case that the Leader of the Opposition’s great big new tax will lead to an increase in the price of milk and the price of bread that pensioners have to pay. Well, Barnaby seems to understand. It only seems to be the Leader of the Opposition that has no idea that pensioners—disability support pensioners, aged pensioners and those on the carer payment—are going to end up paying for his great big new tax.
We saw another piece of evidence last night on Four Corners of just how out of touch this Leader of the Opposition is. He point-blank refused to repudiate previous comments that he had made on women’s inferiority. This is what he said:
… it would be folly to expect that women will ever … approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons.
It is absolutely mind-boggling that this Leader of the Opposition is still living in the Dark Ages. Looking at some of the women members opposite, I see that I am not alone in this view. This Leader of the Opposition spends more time on thinking about how he is going to get his shirt off than on serious policy work.