February 16, 2015

SUBJECT/S: Scott Morrison misleading pensioners; Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison should drop their cuts to pension indexation and deeming rate thresholds.

JENNY MACKLIN (SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND PAYMENTS): Scott Morrison should tell the whole truth to Australian pensioners. Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison have got legislation in the Parliament to cut the indexation of the pension. This would mean over the next decade pensioners face an $80 a week cut to their pension. That’s the truth – and that’s what Scott Morrison should tell Australian pensioners. Scott Morrison also has legislation in the Parliament to cut the deeming thresholds. That too would mean a cut to income for part pensioners, and in fact some part pensioners would get knocked off the pension altogether. So it’s high time that Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott told the truth.

JOURNALIST: With $200 million more going to pensioners, is this the sort of back down that Labor is looking for?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well this is just a normal part of the operation of government. When interest rates go down the deeming rate has to change. So it’s nothing that the Government is especially doing. So Scott Morrison should stop patting himself on the back and in fact should remove the cut to pension indexation and remove the cut to the deeming thresholds. That would show they really understand that they have plans to hurt Australian pensioners.

JOURNALIST: You said that governments routinely change the deeming rates and this is a grow not a boost, but it still has to be an actual decision?

JENNY MACKLIN: It does have to be a decision, it’s a decision that needs to be made when interest rates are cut. But of course pensioners need to hear from the Government that they’ve listened. Tony Abbott says he’s listened. He says now he’s got a good government. Well if he really did have a good government he would remove the cut to pension indexation and he would remove the cut to the deeming thresholds that are in the Parliament that would see a big cut to the pension over the next period.

JOURNALIST: How is this not an increase in funds?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well this will of course make a small difference, a very small difference, it’s all because interest rates have come down. It’s not because the Government’s suddenly decided to be generous. The real

problem for pensioners is in last year’s budget, the cut to pension indexation that would see an $80 a week cut to pensioners over the next decade. That is a huge impact. The Parliamentary Budget Office has worked out that the Government will spend $23 billion less on the pension, and all that money will come out of the pockets of pensioners.

JOURNALIST: With the unemployment rate going up, economists are predicting that interest rates could be slashed once again, isn’t that good news for pensioners?

JENNY MACKLIN: Of course I don’t comment on interest rates. Interest rate reductions are always hard for older people who are relying on money they might have in the bank or investments that they’re relying on to live off. So low interest rates in fact are very hard for older Australians. That’s why the pension is so important, we need to make sure that the pension actually keeps up with the standard of living and what Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey, Scott Morrison all of them want to do is cut pension indexation. Get rid of that cut and we might listen to them.