Thank you for your email to Bill Shorten about the aged pension and the former Compulsory Contributions Levy and National Welfare Fund.
We note your disappointment with Labor’s decision on the pension assets test.
The Liberals have spent three years attacking Australian pensioners.
First, they tried to cut the indexation arrangement of the pension – a cut that would have left pensioners as much as $80 a week worse off within a decade.
Labor fought this cut, and fortunately we were able to protect the pension.
Thanks to Labor, pensioners have been spared this unfair cut.
But the Liberals did not stop there. In 2015, the Abbott-Turnbull Government teamed up with the Greens to cut the pension assets test.
Labor fought this cut too. We opposed it in the Parliament but the Greens and the Liberals did a deal to cut the pension.
We opposed this cut because we believe the policy is flawed.
We believe these cuts will impose disincentives to save, and strong incentives to spend down assets.
This is not in the best interests of pensioners, or the sustainability of the system as a whole.
But we cannot fix all of the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s problems overnight.
They have tripled the deficit. The Budget we will inherit when we come to government is fragile.
It would be irresponsible to commit to reversing this change from opposition.
But we understand the situation this cut has put pensioners into – and that is why we will be undertaking a review into the pension means test in government.
We want to make sure the pension is as effective as possible; that it interacts effectively with the superannuation system and incentivises savings as much as possible.
Labor has a strong record of supporting pensioners. In government Labor introduced the biggest reforms to the pension in its 100-year history. We increased the base rate of the pension, introduced a new pension supplement and improved the regular indexation arrangements so that the pension keeps pace with the overall standard of living of other Australians.
These changes were some of the most significant anti-poverty measures undertaken in a generation. They literally brought more than one million people out of poverty.
Thank you again for taking the time to write to Bill Shorten. We welcome your interest in our policies and the political process.