23rd Aug 2018
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PM says energy supplement for pensioners will stay
Author: Olga Galacho
help with heating bills

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Wednesday the energy supplement paid to pensioners and other welfare recipients has been spared the chopping block.

The fortnightly payments, long a measure that some Coalition Government members have wanted to scrap, are worth $14.10 (about $366 a year) if you are single or $10.60 (about $275 a year) each if you are partnered.

The announcement came on the same day that the Senate conclusively rejected the Coalition’s package of tax cuts to big business, theoretically giving the Government more wriggle room to avoid scrimping on welfare in a bid to make up any future revenue shortfall from corporate Australia.

Removing the supplement was expected to produce savings for the Government of $933.4 million from 2016–17 to 2019–20.

AAP reported on Tuesday that the Government was contemplating axing the supplement, a move seen as countering the Opposition’s own refusal to drop the payment.

Less than 24 hours later, Mr Turnbull confirmed that the top-up to help welfare recipients pay for their electricity and gas bills would stay.

The so-called zombie measure to dump the payment originated in the May 2016 Budget but failed to get enough votes to pass into legislation.

Australian Council of Social Service chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie said the threat of cutting the energy supplement since 2016 had caused anxiety in the community as people on Newstart, Youth Allowance and related payments struggle to afford electricity, food and housing.

“The Prime Minister’s announcement to retain the energy supplement is an important recognition that people on the lowest incomes in Australia are doing it the toughest," Dr Goldie said.

“We also thank the Senate today for listening to the voices of the community and strongly opposing the company tax cut bill which would have cost the budget billions and put further pressure on essential services upon which we all rely.

"Today is an important opportunity for the Government to reset its agenda with the Australian community."

The energy supplement was introduced by the Julia Gillard Government in 2013 to help low-income households offset the carbon tax.

When the Abbott Government killed off the carbon tax the following year, several Coalition MPs argued there was no longer any reason to continue paying the offset.

Last year, then Social Services Minister Christian Porter told Parliament that the Government “does not consider it appropriate to continue to compensate people for a tax that no longer exists”.

However, in the years since the tax was unravelled, power prices have continued to climb to the point where Australians now pay the highest price in the world for electricity. Research shows that in most capital cities, power prices have almost doubled in the past 10 years.

On Wednesday, Mr Turnbull said it had become “absolutely clear” the Government would not continue to pursue the change to energy payments.

“With the issue of energy prices being so prominent, we will not move to repeal the energy supplement,’’ The Australian reported the Prime Minister as saying.

He added the decision was not a rash one and the policy shift would not have a negative impact on the Budget.

The backflip comes as the Mr Turnbull’s hallmark National Energy Guarantee (NEG) policy has been stripped of mechanisms to help meet carbon emissions targets. The paring back of the energy policy now has a supposed emphasis on delivering lower electricity prices, in a nod to conservative backbenchers who still believe that coal-fired power stations produce cheap fuel.

Would you be able to pay your power bills if your energy supplement was axed? What do you make of all the flip-flopping on energy policy?

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    COMMENTS

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    Rae
    23rd Aug 2018
    11:02am
    Terrific. Nothing for me though. I'm just a hard worker who paid her taxes and saved for her retirement. Nice pensioners are helped a bit. Pity about the rest of us though.

    I can pay the power bill although the idea that I'm just propping up Foreign shareholders and Governments irks me while our manufacturers go broke through excessive energy bills and inconsistent supplies.
    jackie
    23rd Aug 2018
    11:20am
    That must mean energy bills are not going down as was promised. I would prefer cheaper energy bills and no supplement. The Energy Supplement is so small it's a joke.
    Knows-a-lot
    23rd Aug 2018
    11:40am
    Propping up foreign shareholders irks me too, Rae.
    George
    23rd Aug 2018
    11:42pm
    ...as well as paying foreigner CEO bonuses!
    Rosret
    23rd Aug 2018
    11:34am
    Is the rest of Australia going, "What the...?" or is it just me.
    Its lovely pensioners get all these supplements but as Rae said,"Not me."

    The thing about supplements is they can be taken away as fast as we change PMs. Pensioners are not the only people who are living on the poverty line. Just ask our farmers and shop keepers.

    The only way to provide affordable prices for energy, maintain defence security and invest in future nation infrastructure is for the Australian government to own the utilities.

    What's that you say? - we sold them. Yep. - the Government must have missed that memo.
    Rosret
    23rd Aug 2018
    11:43am
    I do have a question off topic.
    Alan Trudge was happy for a flawed Centrelink software system and Greg Hunt is happy for a flawed My Health Record system and goodness knows who is happy for a flawed NBN and online Census.

    Will they actually be honest under a new PM and fix the problems or is this all just self interest?

    I am so not impressed. I thought we were over this TV soap opera "Survivor" type politics. I would be looking at the Public Service bureaucracy behind the scenes to find out where the real problems lie. - Outsourcing perhaps?
    TREBOR
    23rd Aug 2018
    12:19pm
    Every word you say has the ring of truth.
    Pentop
    23rd Aug 2018
    12:51pm
    Rosret... totally agree with your comments on the "systems"... it is all because they consistently reduce staff numbers and people with "corporate knowledge" go and outsiders (outsourcers) come in with so called "fixes"... which they then sell to the powers that be and the great solution... millions of dollars later we pay for the real fix and then the original systems still don't work effectively and sink into that space under the cushions on the sofa where they still smell but are not seen directly.
    Rae
    23rd Aug 2018
    12:54pm
    Yes Rosret. From my understanding Credlin and Abbott destroyed the Public Service and a lot of IPA hacks ended up in top positions.

    It appears our Parliamentary system just doesn't work any longer.

    Privatisation, false economies, class warfare and just greedy self interest is ruining Australia.

    It isn't that hard to design IT systems that work and don't waste millions outsourcing to who knows who that can't do the job. We have programmers here in Australia that could fix this if anyone bothered employing Australians.
    jackie
    23rd Aug 2018
    2:16pm
    Roster..The few business we have may go off shore if energy prices continue to rise. The energy supplement is peanuts. It’s mean and petty of this Government to even consider to take it away. Privatisation was the biggest lie Australians were ever told. Less work for Government and more time to travel overseas and squander tax payer money while everyone else gets ripped off. The money doesn’t even stay here it goes off shore with its foreign ownership.
    George
    23rd Aug 2018
    11:44pm
    Lots of good comments above - great work, folks. Now we just need such common sense to permeate to Canberra....
    Knows-a-lot
    23rd Aug 2018
    11:39am
    Too right the supplement should stay! It's become a necessity in light of the exhorbitant bills charged by energy suppliers.
    Rae
    23rd Aug 2018
    12:57pm
    Not necessary obviously for those struggling along on their own bat. It shouldn't be necessary if the utilities were run as they were in the past before Privatisation.
    jackie
    23rd Aug 2018
    2:24pm
    That $8 winter energy concession wouldn’t break my purse
    TREBOR
    23rd Aug 2018
    12:17pm
    Correction:- "the energy supplement paid to pensioners and other Social Security Beneficiaries".

    Never buy into propaganda that is designed to reduce the value of Social Security Beneficiaries by labeling them as 'welfare' recipients - if they want welfare they can go to the Salvos for a food voucher, but their Social Security payments are sacrosanct and paid for in advance by taxpayers for many decades now.

    On the subject matter - now that I've been forced to correct you young and semi-educated fools once again in your ardent pursuit of the very social divisions you claim to be opposing here - I smell the opening of the pork barrel before an election.
    jackie
    23rd Aug 2018
    2:27pm
    Trevor That’s right I worked hard all my life and paid taxes. As a matter of face I am still working part time and paying tax.
    Billv
    23rd Aug 2018
    1:56pm
    How kind, after all the years of taxes we have paid in order to survive in retirement, it's decided we can keep this supplement. If the Govt wants to cut welfare try cutting back on the immigrants that arrive here with nothing have large families and live off welfare rather than working and earning it. This would be a nice place to start and leave those trying to survive alone.
    Wendy HK
    23rd Aug 2018
    2:03pm
    Whew! Thank goodness! That's a real help - when are they going to take money from themselves for a change.
    Billv
    23rd Aug 2018
    2:06pm
    Good one, I've asked myself this question numerous times.
    They should be made to live on our pensions for 6 months and see how they cope
    TREBOR
    24th Aug 2018
    8:16am
    Give 'em all the $40 a day some of 'em reckon they can live on.
    Mad as hell
    23rd Aug 2018
    2:15pm
    Just like the promise of “.... no cuts to pensions....”
    Don’t trust a Liebral promise
    Rae
    23rd Aug 2018
    3:16pm
    Or a Labor one either. They voted with the LNP even though most of those who lost part pensions had been in unions.
    Mad as hell
    23rd Aug 2018
    7:59pm
    Hi Rae not sure what point you are trying to make.
    The changes to the Pensioner Assets Test was a deal done with the LNP and Greens.
    330,000 pensioners lost all or part of their pension another 700,000 people now in their 50s and 60s will lose their all or part of their pensions.
    These are stolen pensions because Tony Abbott promised on the eve of the 2013 election among other broken promises “....no cuts to pensions...”
    The LNP and Greens have used used up their trust with myself.
    George
    23rd Aug 2018
    11:56pm
    I agree Abbott broke many key promises as noted and should have been barred for re-election. While Labor didn't vote for the cuts, they refused to reverse it even if they won the election - I think they lost the last election as a result of that stupid policy. Remember they also increased the Age Pension age to 67 - done quietly by Wayne Swan. Previously, Keating shut down the Pension Fund (after Fraser cleaned it out mostly), and also introduced the Assets Test - which the Abbott / Hockey / Turnbull / Morrison gang then tightened - all joining in to screw part-pensioners.

    Just a few points above to illustrate that all Retirees have a serious duty ahead of them to get rid of the Tag Teams (Liberal or Labor, and Greens) at the next election - which may be vey soon. Vote these blasted parties current seat-warmers last in preferences to get them out - for the sake of current and future retirees!
    Rae
    24th Aug 2018
    7:47am
    From my understanding the ALP supported it through the Senate. I may be wrong I'll check. At the time I objected strongly as I was affected and received a letter from a local Labor Senator.

    I no longer trust either Party I'm afraid. Nothing in the last 20 years has been of much benefit to my life and lifestyle in fact it seems the Government just wants to make it harder for Australians who were born, raised and worked a lifetime here.
    Mad as hell
    24th Aug 2018
    8:41am
    Hi Rae think you are wrong re Labor supporting this legislation, Can’t find the breakup of numbers for this vote either. If you do please post.
    George
    25th Aug 2018
    11:53pm
    I do remember what happened in the Senate regarding the Asset Test changes. Labor sat on their hands not deciding till the Greens decided to support Liberals (ensuring it would pass), and then Labor voted against it so that the record would show they opposed it. Such fraudulent a..holes.
    The real test of Labor was when the election was announced they confirmed that they would not reverse it. No way these mongrels will help retirees!
    olbaid
    23rd Aug 2018
    2:47pm
    I never understood the need for rebates and discounts exclusive to pensioners
    It’s a nonsense
    The OAP is meant to cover basic living expenses in retirement , so why the need for all these “extras”
    I say scrap all rebates and discounts
    TREBOR
    23rd Aug 2018
    4:07pm
    .. because the powers-that-would-like -to-be-but always-fall-short persist in their lies that selling off utilities and such does not lead to higher costs of the end product.... it's pure ideology covered over with a semi-transparent layer of bulldust and propaganda.
    TREBOR
    23rd Aug 2018
    4:09pm
    I will remind you again that when a person/organisation is placed in a position of trust - a significant portion of the trust lies in not deliberately exploiting it for personal gain....

    Governments are elected to a position of trust to manage the nation on behalf of all citizens equally ..... work it out from there....
    olbaid
    23rd Aug 2018
    4:21pm
    Nope - you’re off on a tangent again
    The OAP shoild be sufficient to cover all expenses
    The need for rebates and discounts on individual expense types is a nonsense
    OnlyGenuineRainey
    23rd Aug 2018
    4:27pm
    I agree. These rebates and concessions should be extended to ALL retirees, not just pensioners. We've all done our bit for the nation. Why should people lose out just because they were frugal - when their income may well be half or less than half that a pensioner receives? Of course they only lose out until they spend their hard won savings, so the pension system rewards irresponsibility. That's dumb!
    olbaid
    23rd Aug 2018
    4:31pm
    No Rainey - they should not be offered to ANYONE !!!

    The issue of who gets the pension is a separate argument altogether

    Try and focus
    You and Trebor seem to have a problem in that regard
    OnlyGenuineRainey
    23rd Aug 2018
    9:35pm
    No olbaid. It's not Trebor or me who has a problem. YOU have a problem with reality. Like the Liebels you troll for, you want a world in which the privileged prosper and trample on the less fortunate, making their lives a misery. In your world, nobody except the silver spooners would enjoy even the most modest lifestyle comforts. And there would never be such a thing as fairness or equity, let alone empathy or human decency.
    TREBOR
    24th Aug 2018
    8:23am
    So when a small supplement is introduced to offset massive rises due to government policy - that is not acceptable and the Pensioner etc should just take massive price rises on the chin?

    How is that offering basic sustenance in retirement, olbaid?

    The Trebor Scheme of universal pension and taxation on all income, perks and giftings outside of that would work better.

    That way Harry Fudger the Chocolate King pays tax every time he uses the aircraft owned by Fudger Fudge-Packers Inc ... every time Fudger gives him a lazy mill to spend at the races - Harry pays tax. Every time a politician past boards a first class flight for free, he/she pays tax on it. Every time a politician past picks up his/her payment for life super handout, he/she pays tax on it.

    You begin to see why those who benefit mightily at the moment from tax free perks would never come at this one.... but they're happy to rob the poorest in the land.
    OnlyGenuineRainey
    23rd Aug 2018
    4:30pm
    Just another indication that the LNP has lost the plot. Now even the Senate has no confidence in the government - regardless of who might be leading it next week. The House is in chaos, with resignations all over the place. And we are paying these incompetents to do nothing but argue and fight among themselves, it seems.

    I hate the thought of a Labor government, but we can't tolerate another term of this LNP. I think there is no hope for this nation. Heaven help our children and grandchildren!
    olbaid
    23rd Aug 2018
    4:34pm
    This country needs a Donald Trump
    Peter Dutton is our man
    And Mathias Cormann would make an excellent PM in the future
    OnlyGenuineRainey
    23rd Aug 2018
    9:36pm
    Heaven help us if ANY of the current pollies retain power. Get rid of them all. ESPECIALLY Cormann. What a disaster!
    George
    24th Aug 2018
    12:01am
    Agree all current pollies need to be thrown out. Unfortunately, Corrmanator is a Senator - we didn't even elect him. A bloody turncoat who pledged loyalty to Turnbull yesterday standing next to him, and today turned around to stab him - should be sent back to Belgium! We need to have better immigration policies to stop such unreliable people creeping in.
    TREBOR
    24th Aug 2018
    8:34am
    So sensible, Rainey - I also loathe the idea of a Labor government as they now stand - party of women, ethnics and gays and other misfits. The discussion came about just yesterday again about how poor women are getting paid less - the figures show that at the moment, per hour worked they are being paid more than men - yet we are to believe they are oppressed.

    I note the ABS has stopped putting out the comparative figures for AWE of men and women - too many people who can do figures are seeing the truth.

    However, the 'workplace gender equality agency' (another fine little earner for a few ideologues and useful idiots) puts the current difference at 17.3% "against" women. However the Census said women worked 30 hours as opposed to men 39 - a difference of 23% or so ... so those who can do figures will see that currently women per hour are being paid about 5.7% more than men....

    As I said - the campaigns to bastardise education systems and academic standards to more suit women, affirmative action, remove men from certain job spheres such as teaching and public service and banking (etc), and the ceaseless whining to put more women into the best paid jobs are succeeding.

    Yet nobody wants to address this reality.

    Thank you, olbaid - I'm going off track again - that's why I'm the planner and you're the functionary... I'm working on a strategic plan to educate the people in reality... it works - now many use The Tag Team, a term I created, to describe our 'government' - and jackie above expanded that to The Tag Teams of LNP, Labor, and Greens...

    Just an example - I'm cunning and persistent and knowledgeable...... watch this space ....

    Yet the nonsense goes on and on.
    TREBOR
    24th Aug 2018
    8:41am
    Ja, Der Cormannator.... I vas lischtenink to der Qvestion Dime on der ABC.. und he vass meking ein vool off himzelf...

    Hilarious - how in God's name does a guy from Belgium get to hold down a Senate seat and a Ministry in this nation? How do all these foreign borns get into politics here and why? Because they failed at home, came here and got a far better deal - and saw a golden opportunity to grab hold of? Why in hell would a political party snap them up and stick them up there as representatives of THIS nation's people?

    Many of the Poms etc bring with them their rabid socialism/nazism (no difference) and their current destructive approach to multi-culturalism and so forth - along with a total lack of knowledge and understanding of the way Australia works - yet the get the top spots in the corporation, and tell us what we should accept and do.

    What does The Cormannator bring? An understanding of an arbitrarily cobbled together nation with three distinct ethnic groups and a tiny area compare to Australia? What the hell does anyone in Perth understand about the rest of this nation anyway? They're separated by 2000 miles of desert from civilisation...... yet they hold many top spots.... WHY?

    Now you are beginning to see why I often say that nobody should be able to stand for election here unless they were born here.... at least that way they could have some idea of what this nation WAS all about. Sounds drastic - but many other places enforce it.
    Happy Jack
    24th Aug 2018
    9:21am
    There was movement in the Party for the word had passed around
    that the Man from Snowy Two was just a dud
    and they'd lose the next election if a saviour wasn't found
    who could drag their reputation from the mud

    So they hunkered down in corners and they muttered into phones
    as they polished up the leaders stabbing knives
    and ignored the gleeful chuckles of the traitor known as Tones
    who was stuffing up their born to rule us lives

    can you save us Peter Dutton was a cry that could be heard
    or perhaps there were a few who fancied Scott
    but it didn't really matter cause their polishing a turd
    that'll son be flushed away and left to rot.

    P.S. GERMS JERK 69
    What I predicted prior to this bedraggled mob of ratbags has come to pass.
    GrayComputing
    24th Aug 2018
    10:46am
    It is time for all of us (that means you) to rant at our MPs and Senators daily to take action for human decency and a huge stress reduction for pensioners

    NO ASSET TEST FOR A PENSION EVER AGAIN!
    A pension is not welfare.

    Most economist say we will save taxpayers money by dropping asset testing because of the massive overheads cost in running Centrelink and the 10,000 conflicting rules.

    Hiring more Centrelink staff will only increase taxpayer’s costs for processing the creeping insane red tape monster system politicians and well paid bureaucrats have created.

    Help scrap it now. Become a hero.

    Even poorer New Zealand has a NO ASSET pension so it is cheaper and user friendly.

    Why worry that few million$ earners get it too. That is peanuts to them, not enough for a good vintage champagne.

    Do retired and retiring people really look forward and want 100++ visits to/from Centrelink and be part of 3 million waiting queues and lost calls?

    Does your MP really like being part of the system that allows this indirect abuse of the elderly?

    This abuse is actually sponsored by our government and forced down to Centrelink and borders on a criminal act.

    Why do MPs normally compassionate persons let this Centrelink abuse happen at taxpayers’ expense?

    Some opposition and independent MPs stand to lose their chance at being part of the needed government changes

    We all need to tell our MP and senators every day that these criminal asset tests for a pension must be dropped now.

    Also do TODAY and every day, contact government, opposition and independent MPs and senators who could help us to get a fair deal on pensions

    NO ASSET TEST FOR A PENSION EVER AGAIN!
    Alexii
    26th Aug 2018
    11:48am
    You are quite right, GrayComputing.
    KB
    28th Aug 2018
    12:28pm
    The energy supplement helps a little for those of us on a disability pension.It would preferable to have cheaper electricity bill . Axing GST on electricity would be of gerater help as it would lessen the cost of the bill.


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