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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2300..


MS DUNDAS (continuing):

While it is extremely considerate of the federal government to provide self-funded retirees with the concession card, there is no real precedent for them paying the cost, and any provision of funds would be seen as a one-off bonus. The one-off bonus for this year is for the feds to pay half.

It was reported in the press and repeated in the chamber today that Mr Corbell rejected the compensation offer. The minister said, "With the current ageing population in the ACT, the recurrent cost would continue to increase and would have a significant impact on the ACT's budget." I have not seen what Treasury projections he is working from. Perhaps if we saw the budget projections and how they compare with projections of state grants through the new tax system, we would have a better picture of how taxing the new measures would be.

It is my understanding that South Australia and Western Australia-Western Australia has been under a Labor government for a while now-have indicated that they would introduce the benefit extensions. I wonder whether we should see the Western Australian minister as overgenerous, or is it just a matter of Mr Corbell being Ebenezer Scrooge?

Perhaps we could ask for more money from the federal government, because the Howard government could have and should have paid for the extension of this benefit. We should all remember that in June last year the federal government spent $600 million, paying $300 to every older Australian as a cynical grey-vote buying exercise. This money could have easily helped the states pay for the extensions they have promised to concession cardholders.

I am happy to support the motion, and I ask that Minister Corbell be tough in his negotiations with the federal government, as he may be able to get more money from them so that our support of older Australians does not have an onerous impact on the territory's bottom line.

MS TUCKER (5.44): The federal government's proposal, as I understand it, is to fund at a ratio of 60:40 the extension of concessions currently available to people on the age pension or with a health care card. Unfortunately, I do not have the exact wording of theproposition.

The ACT government funds concessions for people living on the age pension, which is a pension determined and funded by the Commonwealth government. Mr Cornwell discussed concessions such as those for energy, water, sewerage, rates, car registration, transport and spectacle bills. It is not easy to find out from the website exactly what concessions the ACT government makes available to pensioners, and unfortunately the minister's office could not tell me today either. Perhaps the website could include a search for seniors concessions.

The age pension, a Commonwealth pension, is available on a sliding scale. Full and part-pension payments are available on the basis of an assets and income test. For single people, the part-payment cuts out at an upper asset limit, for a person who owns their home, of $283,750 and, for a person who does not own their own home, of $384,750, and an income test $1,181 per fortnight or $30,706 per annum.


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