History of Australian pensions

 The long running Parliamentary Library publication Social Security Payments for the Aged, People with Disabilities and Carers 1901 to 2010 has been updated to include policy changes since 2006.

At federation in 1901 the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia gave power to the Commonwealth Government to legislate for invalid and old-age pensions. A Royal Commission on Old-Age Pensions was conducted during 1905‐6 and legislation for both age and invalid pensions was passed in 1908 during the Deakin administration.

These pensions were unusual compared with other countries in that they were non-contributory (paid for through general revenue, rather than social insurance contributions), non-discretionary and means tested. This design has been the cornerstone for Australia’s social security system ever since.

This paper provides chronologies of developments over the years for all the Commonwealth income support payments, supplementary payments and concessions for the aged, those with disabilities and carers along with brief overviews of major changes since their introduction.

The update to the paper includes the Howard Government Disability Support Pension reforms of 2006 and the Rudd Government pension reforms of 2009. The paper is a valuable reference tool for tracking down policy changes and includes tables of payment rates, means test thresholds and numbers of recipients for the payments covered.

Companion papers covering payments for families and payments for the unemployed and those in special circumstances are also available.

Image: Royal Australian Mint

*Updated 28 October 2012


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