House debates

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Questions without Notice

Senior Australians

2:16 pm

Alison Byrnes (Cunningham, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Social Services. How is the Albanese Labor government helping pensioners address cost-of-living pressures during these uncertain economic times?

Photo of Amanda RishworthAmanda Rishworth (Kingston, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Social Services) Share this | | Hansard source

I'd like thank the member for Cunningham for the question but also for her advocacy for seniors in her electorate. She is a tireless advocate for seniors and many others in her electorate. The government is deeply committed to addressing cost-of-living pressures for older Australians and giving them more flexibility in how they choose to support themselves in retirement.

We've already delivered on a number of key election promises, including to freeze the deeming rates for two years and to expand the access to the Commonwealth seniors health card to approximately 52,000 seniors. Seniors today are now benefitting from the flow-on effects that that seniors card is having. Of course, if all is going well in the Senate pensioners will not be penalised for downsizing their house by getting more favourable deeming rates and ensuring that the cost of that downsizing is not included in the assets test.

We are also making it easier for pensioners to work, if they choose to do so. Last night, the parliament passed the bill that is designed to strengthen incentives for pensioners over the age pension age to take up work. I would like to thank parliamentarians across the aisle, across this parliament, for constructively engaging on this issue. I would also like to acknowledge the national seniors association for their strong advocacy.

The new legislation means that from 1 December 2022 to 31 December 2023 pensioners over age pension age will be able to earn an extra $4,000 without losing any pension. Importantly, they will be able to choose when they take this additional work over the year. Pensioners do not need to do anything. The top-up to their work bonus will automatically be credited to their income bank on 1 December. Around 51,000 pensioners already participating in the workforce will immediately benefit from these increases. We look forward to more pensioners taking up this opportunity, because we know that if there is an increase in the number of older Australians in work this will not only benefit them but will benefit businesses who, in many cases, are struggling to meet workforce shortages.

Supporting older Australians to get into work was one of the key messages coming from the government's Jobs and Skills Summit in September. The passing of the legislation is an example where this government has listened and taken action. Of course, for pensioners this is a win for them. For businesses this is a win for them. And for the government it demonstrates a clear ability to listen and to act.