House debates

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Matters of Public Importance


3:58 pm

Photo of Jenny MacklinJenny Macklin (Jagajaga, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Disability and Carers (House)) Share this | Hansard source

It is just an extraordinary display by this government that in every single budget they have tried to cut the pension. And here we have today the government, in the Senate, trying to give big business a $65 billion tax cut while, at the same time, they have legislation in the parliament to cut the pension—to cut the pension this year just like they had legislation in the parliament to cut the pension last year, the year before that and the one before that. We all remember that it was this Liberal-National government that sought to cut pension indexation that would have taken $23 billion out of the pockets of pensioners—$23 billion! That's what would have happened if Labor hadn't protected pensioners. Labor has had to protect pensioners every single year after this lot's budget. We have had to vote down the cuts to pensioners that each and every one of you have voted for.

Of course, it was this government that took $1 billion out of pensioner concessions. That was done by this government with just a stroke of the pen. It axed the $900 seniors supplement. Of course, it was this government that came in here and changed the assets test arrangement. That actually knocked 90,000 pensioners off the pension. It took them off the pension altogether. There were 330,000 pensioners hurt by that decision by this government, which, of course, all the Liberal and National Party members voted for. All of them voted for it.

I know there are some National Party members who don't agree with this policy. I don't know about the member for Calare. He might get up and tell us whether or not he agrees that the pension age should go to 70. Does the member for Calare agree with that? I know there are other members of the National Party who don't agree with that. Funnily enough, the government never bring this legislation into the parliament; they just keep the cut in the budget—so in fact their deficit numbers are all wrong. But what this would mean is that hundreds of thousands of Australians would not have access to the pension until they were 70. Anyone born after 1958 would be affected by that decision, which the government has already made—it's in the budget—and 375,000 Australians would have to wait longer for the pension.

These are all your policies that will hurt the pension. I could go on for hours about the cuts to the pension this government actually has in the budget it's trying to get through this parliament, which would hurt hundreds of thousands of Australians. Of course, one of the other things that this government refuses to do—that so many pensioners are calling on it to change—is to fix the deeming rates. Interest rates keep going down. For three years this government has refused to adjust the deeming rates. That is pure theft from pensioners on the part of this government, and that just sums this government up. (Time expired)

Honourable members interjecting


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