The Rudd Government should increase the aged pension immediately, following revelations Cabinet was presented with a detailed submission on the issue nearly six months ago, a seniors group says.
Documents released to the Seven Network under the Freedom of Information Act show Cabinet considered an 83-page submission, including detailed options, on increasing payments to aged pensioners on March 25.
But it failed to act in the May budget other than to continue the annual $500 pension bonus and raise the utilities allowance.
National Seniors Australia chief executive Michael O’Neill says the revelation is further proof that older Australians aren’t being valued.
“It’s time for the Prime Minister and the rest of the Government to provide relief for older Australians,” Mr O’Neill told Sky News.
“I think we see action in other areas of Government in a much shorter and quicker time frame than what we’re seeing on this issue.”
The Government is refusing to increase the pension until at least February next year, despite a raft of senior Labor MPs, including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, admitting they couldn’t survive on the $546.80 a single aged pensioner receives each fortnight.
Labor says it needs to wait until it receives a review of all pensions and carers payments.
But Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson has told Fairfax newspapers the FoI documents make clear “that Mr Rudd’s committee on pensions is just a cynical smokescreen hiding his deliberate refusal to help Australia’s pensioners”.
Dr Nelson will introduce legislation next week for an immediate $30 a week rise in the single aged pension.
Mr O’Neill says the squabbling over the aged pension is making older Australians believe “more and more that really there’s not a lot of value attached to (them) compared to other parts of the community”.