Pensions & Benefits

29 Nov 2018 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby) (15:59): I am pleased to speak on this matter today because those opposite and their State colleagues in South Australia—my home state—have a particularly horrendous record when it comes to taking care of our senior Australians. In my electorate this is felt particularly keenly. On this side of the House, the Government have a plan for a strong economy, which means we can afford to be as generous as we can be and we can afford to guarantee the essential services that our senior Australians need.

Last year there were nearly 3.5 million claims for income support payments and concessions, including the age pension, and the vast majorities of these claims were processed within four weeks. It is the Coalition Government that has cleaned up the mess that Labor left us when they cut almost 20 per cent of the customer-facing workforce—that was 4,800 staff—in the Department of Human Services, resulting in long delays and poor customer service. Are those delays any surprise when they had cut 20 per cent of the customer-facing workforce, 4,800 staff?

In comparison, on our side of the House, we have a plan for a strong economy that has ensured we have a social security system that is efficient, sustainable and supports senior Australians. It supports them to work longer and to retire comfortably. Life under Labor, for our senior Australians, would be very, very different. Those opposite will impose a retiree tax on our senior Australians which will hurt around 900,000 Australians who have worked hard and saved hard to provide for themselves in their retirement. Australia's tax system has been designed to ensure that shareholders pay tax on the dividends they received at their marginal rate. By abolishing tax refunds on dividends, Labor is effectively introducing double taxation.

Where will Labor's taxes end? The $45 billion tax grab will hurt thousands of people in my community who will have no choice but to rely on our social welfare system to survive, despite having worked hard throughout their lives to be self-sufficient in their retirement. If that weren't bad enough, Labor's housing tax will go after these same people, who own their own homes and might own investment properties as a form of stable investment. Those opposite's negative gearing policy would further destroy the nest eggs that Australians have worked hard to build over their lifetimes.

Many senior Australians have investment properties that they acquired to fund their retirement. Those opposite want to punish self-reliance. Their housing tax will hit 1.3 million Australians who negatively gear their properties, across every state and every territory, and it will hit every Australian with equity in their home. What about the pensioners who rent their home? They will be worse off as well, due to having to pay more thanks to the negative impact on the housing market that Labor's policy will have. This is, without a doubt, a lose-lose policy. If you own your own home, it will be worth less. If you rent your home, it will cost you more. Labor has no concept of fairness and absolutely no care for our senior Australians.

In contrast, our Government, the Coalition Government, is protecting senior Australians and their retirement savings that they worked hard to create. It is also a Government that is looking after the health and welfare of our senior Australians, particularly in the aged-care sector. Coming from South Australia, not one single one of us can or will ever forget the devastating impact of the Oakden disaster and the treatment there of our most vulnerable South Australians and their families. That's what happens under Labor governments. They neglect those people who most desperately need our care and protection. Our Government is ensuring this will never happen again with a one-stop shop for aged-care complaints and a Royal Commission into the aged-care sector.

It was also the State Labor Government that closed down our beloved and iconic Repat hospital, which catered to so many of my senior residents, senior Australians and our veteran community. It cared for them for more than 70 years. I am proud to say that I am working closely with my state Liberal colleagues in the Marshall Liberal government to reopen Repat, reopen the services and look after some of our most vulnerable senior Australians.