Media Release: Shorten's short memory on Labor support for pension assets test changes

15 December 2016

The Hon Alan Tudge MP

Minister for Human Services

Bill Shorten is trying to rewrite history again over pension assets test changes. In the dying days of the election campaign, Labor endorsed the changes to pensions so they could bank the savings in their financial costings.

We assumed that Labor had, finally, recognised that regardless of who is in Government, it is essential to take action to ensure the pension is sustainable into the future.

However, the Opposition Leader is still keen to walk both sides of the street and mislead vulnerable people over Labor’s support for these changes, once again denying their support with his weasel words on 3AW this morning:

“… the problem I think, which is exacerbated that decision, and Labor voted against that decision when the Liberals and the Greens were pushing it…”

Instead of explaining that the Labor Party now support the change, Mr Shorten endorsed the Union robo call campaign, which is specifically designed to scare pensioners unnecessarily and dishonestly, saying:

“Um, when does the ordinary person get a chance to find out the issues and also to, um, contact the government to let them know?”

Bill Shorten knows that the Department of Human Services wrote to 700,000 pensioners in late September and early October to fully outline the details of the changes.

He also knows my Department has, in the past 2 weeks, written directly to all those affected detailing the specific change to their payment, if they have one.

The facts are more than 90% of pensioners will be better off or have no change to their payment from 1 January 2017, but Bill is still determined to scare vulnerable people by refusing to distance himself from the Union campaign.

These changes are fair and critical to ensure that Australia's pension system remains sustainable into the future as our population ages. The changes effectively revert back to the taper rate that existed prior to 2007 and are supported by both ACOSS and COTA.