Key party policies that affect you

With just one day to go until the Federal Election, YourLifeChoices sets out the major parties’ key policies that might sway your vote – in their words.

The Greens

On financial matters
The Greens are committed to addressing the structural barriers that older Australians on low incomes are facing, including better access to safe and affordable housing and increasing the rate of income support payments, such as Newstart, to assist older Australians before they reach age pension age.

We would establish an Independent Equality Commission, which would be responsible for setting the rates of income support payments and would consider the establishment of a universal age pension.

On climate change
Climate change threatens our way of life and the lives of our children and grandchildren and that is why we need to transition our economy to clean energy. By transitioning to 100 per cent renewable energy, re-regulating electricity prices and establishing a pubic energy retailer, we can lower energy bills and ensure a safer future for all.

The Greens would also increase the Energy Supplement by 30 per cent. By shifting to clean energy, Australia can future proof our economy and create a new clean export economy exporting clean energy to the world.

On healthcare
The Greens would create a truly universal health system designed to keep people well, which provides the care you need when you need it, regardless of your illness, postcode or bank balance.

We would also address the acute problem of public hospital waiting lists through an additional injection of funding. Our plan includes: universal dental care, increased investment in Medicare and the redirection of the private health insurance rebate into public healthcare.

On incentives
The Greens believe older Australians should be able to continue working past the age pension age without being unfairly penalised financially. We support improving the employment outcomes for older Australians through flexible work arrangements, skills development and protection against age discrimination.

On Centrelink
The Greens consistently advocate on behalf of all Australians to make Centrelink more accessible, effective and efficient. We are committed to ensuring older Australians are able to access Centrelink resources and will continue to hold the Government to account regarding Centrelink wait times and application processing times.

Click NEXT to read the ALP’s policies

ALP

On financial matters
Labor established the Age Pension – and only Labor can be trusted to protect the household budgets of pensioners.

A Labor Government will make the tax system fairer by closing down a concession that gives cash refunds for excess dividend imputation credits. We will have a Pensioner Guarantee – protecting pensioners from changes to excess dividend imputation credits.

We will improve housing affordability and support housing construction by reforming negative gearing and capital gains tax arrangements. All investments made prior to 1 January 2020 will be fully grandfathered.

On climate change
Labor will reduce pollution, invest in renewable energy and take real action on climate change.

Labor is committed to working with business to reduce Australia’s pollution by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero pollution by 2050.

We are also committed to 50 per cent renewable energy in our electricity mix by 2030. Renewable energy is cheaper and cleaner – it is the smart thing to do.

On healthcare
A Labor Government will deliver the biggest cancer care package in Australian history, with a $2.3 billion investment to slash out-of-pocket expenses for cancer patients, which includes eliminating all out-of-pocket costs for diagnostic imaging, with up to six million free cancer scans funded through Medicare.

We will also establish a landmark Medicare Pensioner Dental Plan – giving up to three million older Australians access to free dental care. This will mean all age pensioners and Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card holders will be able to access up to $1000 in dental services for free every two years.

Labor will make improving dementia care a national priority, incentivise doctors to visit residential aged care and homes, ensure that every aged care facility has a registered nurse on site 24 hours a day and publishes its staff skill mix. We will also look at how to improve access to home care and ensure seniors most at need are prioritised for packages.

On incentives
Labor will launch a new job creation plan aimed at getting over-55s back into the workforce by providing tax cuts to any business with an annual turnover of less that $10 million that employs someone younger than 25 or older than 55. To be eligible for the additional deduction, new employees need to have been unemployed for three months or more as well as meeting the age requirements.

Labor supports the extended pension work bonus. From 1 July 2019, both employed and self-employed social security pensioners over pension age will be eligible for the Work Bonus, and able to earn up to $300 per fortnight from work before this income is assessed under the pension income test. Additionally, the Work Bonus maximum accrual amount will increase to $7800.

On Centrelink
Labor will establish 1200 new permanent and full-time Department of Human Services staff around the country, improving waiting times and services that Australians rely on.

Click NEXT to read the Coalition’s policies

The Coalition

On financial matters
We have opened up the Pension Loans Scheme to all older Australians with securable real estate owned in Australia, including full rate pensioners of Age Pension age and self-funded retirees, so a pensioner couple on maximum rate can boost their retirement income by up to $18,150.60, without impacting on their eligibility for the pension or other benefits.

We have provided $365 million to make a one-off Energy Assistance Payment of $75 for singles and $62.50 for each eligible member of a couple to around five million income support recipients, including those on the Age Pension.

Both concessional and non-concessional voluntary superannuation contributions can now be made by those aged 65 and 66 without a requirement to meet the work test, with those aged 65 and 66 able to make up to three years of non-concessional contributions under the bring-forward rule.

People aged up to and including 74 will also be able to receive spouse contributions without having to meet the work test requirements.

On climate change
We are committed to Australia playing its part in the global solution to reduce greenhouse emissions. The Government’s 2030 target to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels is responsible and achievable. This target will see a reduction in emissions per person halve by 2030. This is one of the strongest efforts among G20 countries.

On healthcare
We are containing the cost of healthcare by increasing funding for diagnostic services such as MRIs and PET scans to detect breast cancer.

In partnership with GPs, we will improve options for more flexible care to meet the needs of patients and to keep them healthy and out of hospital with a $1.6 billion package to strengthen primary care.

We will continue to give Australians access to the latest medicines through the PBS – with reduced costs on more than 2000 new and amended medicines listings since 2013, thanks to an investment of $10.6 billion.

We will provides record funding for public hospitals with an additional $31 billion from 2020–2021 to 2024–2025 to employ more nurses, doctors and specialists, delivering – in partnership with the states and territories – more surgeries and medical services.

On incentives
We are providing more incentive to work past the age pension age without being financially penalised in terms of pension entitlements.
The Coalition extended and expanded the Pension Work Bonus from 1 July 2019 to:

  • include self-employed pensioners; and
  • increase the Bonus from $250 to $300 per fortnight, with the maximum accrual increasing from $6500 to $7800.

On Centrelink
The Department of Human Services’ Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation Program is changing the way the Government delivers welfare payments now and into the future. Improving older Australians’ experiences with the Department is a top priority.

The department will continue to invest in new technology to deliver improved Centrelink services for all Australians.

The Government is committed to making it easier for all Australians to access Centrelink services, and in 2018–2019 provided $50 million to target call wait times and improve service delivery.

Wait times in the department’s phone lines are being reduced as a result and an additional 2750 call centre workers employed.

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