Monday, September 8, 2008

Gillard couldn't do it

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard admits she couldn't survive on the age pension.

Yesterday, Treasurer Wayne Swan admitted he couldn't survive on the aged pension but ruled out any significant increase until next year.

From September 20, the single aged pension will be about $560 a fortnight, an amount that Mr Swan said was "totally inadequate".

In recognition of that, the government provided a $500 bonus and increased the utility allowance in last year's budget, he said.

Ms Gillard agreed that the pension was too low and, like Wayne Swan, she could not live on it.

"No, I don't ... I would agree with Wayne Swan," Ms Gillard told reporters in Brisbane today.

"I think it's very tough for people to make ends meet on the single aged pension.

"They are obviously there facing cost of living pressures. We know the price of food has gone up. We know the price of oil has gone up."

Ms Gillard said the Government had provided some relief in the May budget by delivering the cash bonus and utilities allowance to help pensioners with quarterly bills.

"And on September 20, we will deliver indexation to the pension which will give single pensioners around $15 more a week," she said.

But she acknowledged that, even with the bonus relief payments, pensioners faced difficulties and cost pressures and further measures were being considered by the Henry commission of inquiry into tax.

Ms Gillard also laid some blame for pensioners' financial problems on the previous government.

"At the time of the Howard government, we did not not see any profound changes in our pension system," she said.

"Pensioners, particularly single pensioners, have been doing it tough for a long period of time.

"That didn't start last November - it started a long period of time before that."


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