Canberra, February 8: The Turnbull Government today voted to cut the pension for elderly Australians who travel overseas.
The Social Services Legislation Amendment (Budget Repair) Bill 2015 would affect migrant pensioners to continue to receive their pension while they are overseas.
The government proposed that from the first of January 2017 pensioners who had spent less than 35-years of their working life in Australia would have their welfare benefit reduced after six weeks of living abroad.
Currently, pensioners can stay overseas for 26 weeks and receive their full pension. Following that time, the pension is reduced to a rate that depends on the number of years they have worked in Australia.
Under the Turnbull Government’s changes, from 1 January 2017 pensioners will have their pension cut after just six weeks.
Malcolm Turnbull’s new pension cuts will particularly affect thousands of migrant pensioners who often spend time overseas to visit family or friends.
In a joint statement, Jenny Macklin, Shadow Minister for families and payments and Michelle Rowland, Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism said that “there are many older Australians who left family or fled conflict on the other side of the world to build a better life in our country.
“They have spent decades working hard, paying taxes, raising families and making Australia a better place. They deserve the pension, just like any other eligible older Australian.
“This is a cruel and unfair cut. It is not unreasonable for someone to wish to spend some time overseas visiting family, particularly if that person has spent decades living and working in Australia.
Labor voted against this cut in the House of Representatives and intends to vote against it in the Senate.
The statement also said that “Labor will always put people first – that’s why Labor is standing up for pensioners and opposing Mr Turnbull’s cuts to the pension”.
While Labor puts people first, Malcolm Turnbull puts pensioners last.
The Abbott-Turnbull government has earlier increased the pension age to 70. Australia now has the oldest pension age amongst developed countries
The Shadow Ministers also stated that “Limiting overseas travel for pensioners to six weeks, particularly hurting migrant pensioners”.