DOORSTOP INTERVIEW, 11 APRIL 2014

SUBJECT/S: Age Pension 

JENNY MACKLIN: Reports this morning indicate the Abbott Government is preparing to cut the Age Pension in the upcoming Budget. 

I would say to Tony Abbott this will be a complete breaking of his promise that he made to Age Pensioners before the last election. 

Tony Abbott said before the last election that there would be no cut to the Age Pension, that there would be no changes to the Age Pension. 

That was the promise Tony Abbott made to 2.3 million Australian Age Pensioners. 

And now Tony Abbott is proposing to break that promise. 

Australian Age Pensioners are living on around $20,000 a year, $20,000 for a single maximum rate pensioner. 

Is Tony Abbott saying to those Pensioners that their pension is too high? I think Tony Abbott’s priorities in this Budget are completely twisted. 

Tony Abbott has said he is going to introduce a new gold-plated paid parental leave scheme that would see wealthy women get $75,000 to have a baby. 

And now he is also going to cut the Age Pension. That just shows his priorities are totally twisted. 

JOURNALIST: It is estimated that the pension is going to cost up to $60 billion in ten year’s time, is that affordable? 

JENNY MACKLIN: What we know is that the Australian Age Pension system is one of the most tightly targeted to those in need of any pension system in the world. 

We spend a lot less on our Age Pension compared to other developed countries. What I know is that Age Pensioners need a decent standard of living. 

And they need to know that the pension is going to go up when the cost of living goes up, not have it go down as Tony Abbott wants to do. 

JOURNALIST: So you would see it as affordable going forward? The way it stands. 

JENNY MACKLIN: Well if you look at the comparisons that have been produced by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development they show that Australia’s Age Pension system is much more affordable than any other comparable country. 

JOURNALIST: So do you support any changes at all? 

JENNY MACKLIN: Labor introduced the biggest reforms to the Age Pension back in 2009, these were very important reforms to the pension that made sure that people on the Age Pension have a decent standard of living. 

And we will fight very hard against any proposals by the Abbott Government to cut the pension. 

Pensioners need a decent pension to live on. 

Tony Abbott promised before the last election there would be no cuts, no changes to the Age Pension. He needs to keep his promise. 

JOURNALIST: You say that age spending is sustainable, when the IMF says it isn’t. Not for Australia not for other countries. How do you back this up? 

JENNY MACKLIN: Well, I’ve just given you the example from the OECD that shows that Australia’s Age Pension system is highly targeted to those in need. 

It is in fact one of the lowest level of spending compared to other developed countries. 

What we also know is that Tony Abbott wants to introduce a big new gold-plated paid parental leave scheme for very wealthy women that will see women get $75,000 to have a baby – that’s a lot more than an Age Pensioner gets in one year. 

JOURNALIST: So if there is there does need to be savings, do you think it’s that paid parental leave scheme that should go rather than the pension cuts? 

JENNY MACKLIN: If Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey want to find savings for this budget the first place they should look is Tony Abbott’s gold-plated paid parental leave scheme. 

Labor introduced an affordable paid parental leave scheme that now applies to almost 100% of Australian families. We want so make sure that the budget is sustainable – that’s why we introduced a paid parental leave scheme that is affordable. 

Tony Abbott wants to introduce a paid parental leave scheme that would see very wealthy women get $75,000 to take 6 months off to have a baby. 

JOURNALIST: You mentioned this OECD saying that Australia has a highly targeted quite low in comparison, but even though it’s low does it make it sustainable? 

JENNY MACKLIN: It certainly is sustainable. I don’t think $20,000 for a maximum rate single pensioner is a lot of money. 

Does Tony Abbott think it’s too much to pay an Age Pensioner $20,000 a year, that’s for him to answer? 

ENDS 

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