Monday, 22 June 2015
Social Services Legislation Amendment (Fair and Sustainable Pensions) Bill 2015; Consideration in Detail
by introducing another cut to the pension, this time by changing the way the assets test works.
Each and every pensioner in Australia—and there are 3½ million pensioners—is going to remember, particularly as they go to the election, that this Prime Minister did not tell the truth. They will never forget it, and I can assure and each and every member opposite that we will make sure of it. What pensioners will be saying to themselves and to their neighbours is: 'What will they do to us next? What will these Liberal and National Party members do to us next?' How could they possibly trust a Prime Minister who told them before the last election that there would be no changes to the pension—and yet here we are debating yet another change to the pension?
We know that the Prime Minister would really like to cut pension indexation, a cut that would have seen 3½ million pensioners lose $80 a week within a decade. That is really what the Prime Minister wanted to do. We know that, because he stood here at the dispatch box day after day after day defending it, trying to tell pensioners that it was fair to cut the pension by $80 a week. There is no doubt whatsoever that that is what this Prime Minister wants to do.
We also have no doubt that he clearly wants to try another approach now. This legislation, which all these Liberal and National Party members are going to vote for, will see 300,000 pensioners face a cut. Of course, it is not going to stop there. It is not only these 300,000 pensioners, who are currently retired. We also need to think about what the impact of this change will be on those planning their retirement. People in the age range of 50 to 65 right now, of course, understand that this change that this Liberal-National Party government is pushing through this parliament today will mean that around half of all new retirees will be affected. Half of them will have a lower pension then they would have otherwise anticipated. These are people who are currently on below-average incomes. All these people in the 50-to-60 age range who are currently on below-average incomes now know that, because of this change that this government is pushing through the parliament, they will have a more difficult retirement because of this government.
Also, we should not ever forget the grubby deal that the Greens did, and we will not be letting them forget it either. The Greens too are lining up with the Liberal and National parties.
What I want to say to pensioners today is that the Labor Party will stand with you. We will make sure that your retirement incomes are protected. We do not think that it is right for a government to say one thing to pensioners before an election and then do the exact opposite. This government has moved to cut the incomes of 3½ million pensioners. It thinks it is going to get off scot free. Well, it will not. The Labor Party will do everything to defend the pension.