Budget a good start, but can go further says National Seniors

Chris Grice, CEO of National Seniors Australia (NSA) joined us again on the YourLifeChoices podcast this week to get his take on the 2024 Federal Budget and what it means for older people – there’s some choice inclusions for seniors, but much more still needs to be done.

The dust has settled on last month’s Federal Budget and the winners and losers have been tallied. Containing inflation was a top priority, but so was reigning in the cost of living – especially for Australia’s seniors and pensioners.

As an advocacy group, NSA makes submissions to state and federal governments every year to make sure the needs of older people are covered, and it appears this year’s suggestions have been mostly taken on board.

Mr Grice joined host John Deeks on the podcast to give his take on the budget announcements – and in particular ones NSA campaigned for, even if they didn’t quite get everything they wanted.

Energy rebate should’ve been more

Cost-of-living pressures were directly addressed in the budget in the form of the $300 energy rebate, to be taken off your energy bills at $75 per quarter. Mr Grice welcomed the extra money, but says it fell a little short of what NSA was campaigning for.

“We’d actually advocated for a broader $500 amount,” he says.

But you’ve got to be able to get it into the hands of people. And the best way to do it was through the energy subsidy. So, we’re really pleased to see that $300 being shared.”

Cheaper medicines locked in

Announced in the budget, the maximum price of medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will be just $7.70 for pensioners and concession card holders and the price will be locked for five years.

“We were really pleased to see in the Federal Budget recently that the government has committed to a five-year freeze on the co-payments for prescription medicine,” Mr Grice says.

“Seniors are always looking for certainty around their finances and for the government to commit to five years that there’ll be no increase on those co-payments, that’s a fantastic outcome.”

Deeming rate freeze

Mr Grice also praised the extension of the deeming rate freeze. A deeming rate is used by Centrelink to calculate the earned income of an asset over a year for income testing purposes.

The first $60,400 of your financial assets has a deeming rate of 0.25 per cent applied. Anything over $60,400 is deemed to earn 2.25 per cent.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced in the budget that these rates would remain unchanged until the end of 2024-25.

The deeming rate is one of NSA’s primary lobbying targets.

“We advocated for a freeze during COVID because of the state of the world economy at that stage,” Mr Grice says. Around 450 Age Pensioners stand to benefit.

Rent Assistance increase

Thousands of older Australians on the Age Pension who rent will get a 10 per cent boost to their Commonwealth Rent Assistance payment. Mr Grice welcomed the increase but says more still needs to be done to help older renters.

“Government included an extra 10 per cent in rent assistance,” he says.

“Still not enough, but it’s a great effort. It’s another 10 per cent on what was a 15 per cent increase last year.”

Funding for aged care packages

Mr Grice also praised the extra 4500 million in funding for an increased number of at-home aged care packages. In addition, state governments will be given $610 million to assist long-stay older residential patients in leaving hospital and returning to the community.

The extra funds should create around 24,100 new home care packages.

“Importantly, there was also some money in there for aged care workers,” Mr Grice says.

“That’s really good for aged care workers and that’s really good for older Australians.”

Were you happy with the budget? What issues would you like to see NSA advocate for next? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Budget a good start, but older Australians need more

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyerhttps://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/bradlockyer/
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


  1. What a joke! I’m currently receiving (in NSW) a subsidy on my electricity of $500 pa ($125 pq), and the federal government wants me to take $300! Where am I, as a cash strapped age pensioner who rents supposed to get the extra $200 from to pay my account?

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