Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Questions without Notice
Pensions and Benefits
I thank Senator Brockman for his question. I welcome the opportunity to update the Senate on the work that the Turnbull government is doing to deliver for all Australians and most especially for Australians of age pension age. In the budget, the government outlined a full package that helps age pension recipients take control of their finances and their future in the More Choices for a Longer Life package.
Of course, this includes important changes to the Pension Loans Scheme. The Pension Loans Scheme is, of course, a voluntary scheme and can provide a reverse mortgage type loan that can offer a fortnightly income stream to participants, and this can help age pensioners enjoy a higher standard of living in retirement by allowing them to receive regular additional payments from the government. The government is expanding the scheme for older Australians. From 1 July next year, the scheme will be expanded, with the available fortnightly loan-plus-pension amount increasing from 100 to 150 per cent of the maximum rate of the fortnightly pension, which is currently $907.60. Around 6,000 eligible pensioners of age pension age are expected to take up a loan under the scheme over the next four years.
What were those opposite going to do to pensioners and to self-funded retirees?
Senator Abetz interjecting—
Of course, they were going to raid their pockets—raid them. Absolutely, Senator Abetz—raid their pockets. These are people who have worked very, very hard for their retirement, and what are you guys opposite going to do? You're going to put your hands in their pockets and raid their pockets. It's their hard-earned cash, and that's what you were going to do.
Thank you, Senator Brockman. This is a very important point. The government's policy will indeed provide more support to Australians of age pension age who are part pensioners and self-funded retirees. This change will benefit, for the first time, pensioners of age pension age who currently receive the maximum rate and cannot access the existing scheme. It will also allow self-funded retirees, who are precluded from the existing Pension Loans Scheme due to both the pension income test and the assets test, to apply for a loan. Pension-rate age pensioners and self-funded retirees with an existing loan will also be able to increase it up to the new amount. This is another way that the Turnbull government is delivering for older Australians.
Again, thank you, Senator Brockman, for your question, particularly because there is a very real contrast that is plain for all Australians to see. This government has a clear plan to support Australians to live a healthy, independent, connected and safe life in their retirement, and this includes our increase and extension of the pension work bonus to back older Australians who want to continue doing some work as they get older. Unfortunately, Labor also have a plan, and that is a sledgehammer to the savings of pensioners and retirees with their unfair retiree tax, because that's what they want to do. They want to put their hands in retirees' pockets and take out the savings of people who have worked very, very hard for their retirement. That's what those opposite want to do.