DESPITE the tough Budget, six-monthly rises in the Age Pension would continue, the Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce said today.
“In March 2014 the base rate of single pension rose by $14.30 a fortnight in and the base rate for pensioner couples increased by $21.60 a fortnight. There will be another rise in September 2014, and there will be another rise each six months after that,” Mr Joyce said.
“I want to reassure people that the pension is not being cut, and will continue to grow in the future in line with inflation.”
Mr Joyce said that from September 2017 rises in the Age Pension and other pensions will be tied to the Consumer Price Index and pensioners will continue to receive six-monthly increases in line with rises in the cost of living.
Mr Joyce said there had been a lot of misinformation about the Budget and some pensioners had expressed concern to him about the changes and the cutting of the Seniors Supplement. This change only affects Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders.
Age pensioners do not receive the Seniors Supplement and are not affected by this measure. Age pensioners receive the Pension Supplement and there have been no changes to the Pension Supplement.
“Older Australians have contributed all their working lives and the Australian Government will continue to support them in their retirement and old age,” Mr Joyce said.
“We are asking people to come with us on this, and though they don’t like it, we have to do this now or we will be in a world of trouble later on.”
Mr Joyce said that the Government will continue Labor’s increase to the Age Pension eligibility age, which is legislated to be 67 in 2023. The government is continuing this gradual increase by six months every two years, until the pension eligibility age is 70 in 2035.
“We are asking everyone to play a part in fixing our debt problem, but this will only get worse unless we do something now,” Mr Joyce said.
“There is a lot in this budget for people to digest and it will take time for people to understand the details.”
Mr Joyce said that despite the proposed axing of the Carbon Tax, the Energy Supplement (formerly known as the Clean Energy Supplement) to help people with their electricity and gas bills will continue to be paid to age pensioners and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders.
Pensioners and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders will continue to have access to Commonwealth concessions on certain medical and pharmaceutical costs, Mr Joyce said.