It will be an interesting question to be answered in the February 2009 Senate Estimates Committee Hearings to know exactly when the description of the payments to Centrelink recipients were changed from “downpayment” to “handout” or “Christmas Bonus.”
On 30th September, 2008, The Hon Lindsay Tanner (Federal Finance Minister) rejected an interim handout to pensioners, because, he says, it would inevitably become permanent. “Australian Disability and Health News – September 30 – 2008”
On 14th October, 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced lump sum payments worth $4.8 billion to pensioners, $3.9 billion to low and middle income families, and $1.5 billion for first home buyers.
From the ALP Website of 14th October 2008, we quote “The Rudd Government will deliver a $4.8 billion down payment to Australia’s four million pensioners, carers, seniors and veterans – providing them with immediate financial help in the lead up to comprehensive reform of the pension.
This decisive action is part of the Rudd Government’s $10.4 billion Economic Security Strategy to boost the Australian economy and support pensioners and families during the global financial crisis.
The $4.8 billion down payment will be made available through a lump sum payment of $1,400 to singles and $2,100 to couples, which will benefit:
- Age Pensioners;
- Disability Support Pensioners;
- Carer Payment recipients;
- Wife and Widow B Pensioners; Partner, Widow and Bereavement Allowees;
- Veterans Affairs Service Pensioners;
- Veterans Income Support Supplement recipients;
- Veterans Affairs Gold Card holders eligible for Seniors Concession Allowance;
- Those of age pension age who receive Parenting Payment, Special Benefit, or Austudy; and
- Eligible Self Funded retirees holding a Commonwealth Senior Health Card (CSHC)
People who are receiving Carer Allowance will also receive $1,000 for each eligible person being cared for.
All payments will be made automatically through Centrelink and the Department of Veterans Affairs in the fortnight beginning 8 December 2008.
Payments are intended to provide additional support in the nine months between now and when long-term reforms are introduced from the beginning of the next financial year. (which commences 1st July 2009)
The global financial crisis is placing increasing pressure on budgets already stretched by the rising cost of living.
That is why we are taking decisive action to provide support to pensioners while reforms to the pension system are being finalised. ” end of quote
Please tell me how this can be reconciled with the subsequent urging of the PM and others to SPEND, SPEND, SPEND, SPEND IT NOW!
The media frenzy which followed for the two months from the date of the announcement to the time the payments began to be made left not a person in this country either unaware that the money was coming nor that it was their patriotic duty to spend it now!
Daily Telegraph – December 8th 2008 qu0te “KEVIN Rudd has a simple message for the thousands of families who will share $10.4 billion in handouts aimed at kick-starting the economy: “Go out and spend.” end of quote.
Farm Weekly 8th December 2008 quote “As Kevin Rudd urged pensioners and families to “go out and spend” the Christmas bonus being paid into their bank accounts, it has emerged the recession-busting package will cost taxpayers $28 million in advertising and administration costs.” end of quote.
The original purpose of the funding – to provide a DOWNPAYMENT to tide Centrelink recipients over until the May review and the introduction of reform in the NEXT FINANCIAL YEAR (read 2009/2010) was lost in the stupid, greedy, rush to the trashy tinsel town we call Christmas shopping.
And come May 2009, when the budget reviews are complete and the reforms for 2009/2010 are announced, this DOWNPAYMENT will be recalled as having been the first payment made in a series of Centrelink reforms, by a devious, manipulating, populist Government that will have wasted a $10.4 Billion opportunity for genuine reform.
So, if you haven’t spent it all yet – a Smart Poppy will be saving some for a rainy day between now and next July. http://is.gd/ekw6