Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 5) Bill 2014

Bills Digest no. 59 2014–15

PDF version  [689KB]

WARNING: This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

This Bills Digest should be read in conjunction with Bills Digest for the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014.

Michael Klapdor and Luke Buckmaster
Social Policy Section

 

Contents

List of abbreviations
History of the Bill
Structure of the Bills Digest
Purpose and structure of the Bill
Committee consideration
Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights
Policy position of non-government parties/independents
Position of major interest groups
Financial implications
Key issues and provisions
Concluding comments

 

Date introduced:  2 October 2014
House:  House of Representatives
Portfolio:  Social Services
Commencement:  Part 1 of Schedule 1 on 1 July 2017; Part 2 of Schedule 1 on 20 September 2017; Schedule 2 and all other sections on Royal Assent.

Links: The links to the Bill, its Explanatory Memorandum and second reading speech can be found on the Bill’s home page, or through the Australian Parliament website.

When Bills have been passed and have received Royal Assent, they become Acts, which can be found at the ComLaw website.

 

List of abbreviations

Abbreviations Definition
CPI Consumer Price Index
DSS Department of Social Services
DSP Disability Support Pension
MTAWE Male Total Average Weekly Earnings
No. 1 Bill Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 1) Bill 2014
No. 2 Bill Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014
No. 4 Bill Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 4) Bill 2014
No. 5 Bill Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 5) Bill 2014
No. 6 Bill Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 6) Bill 2014
PBLCI Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index
PPS Parenting Payment Single
SS Act Social Security Act 1991
SS Admin Act Social Security (Administration) Act 1999
Seniors Supplement Bill Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Seniors Supplement Cessation) Bill 2014
VE Act Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986

History of the Bill

All of the main legislative amendments required to implement the 2014–15 budget measures in the Social Services Portfolio were previously proposed in two omnibus Bills:

Neither of those Bills has proceeded beyond the second reading stage in the Senate, most likely because the Government was unable to secure their passage due to opposition to various measures from the Australian Labor Party (Labor), the Australian Greens (the Greens), minor parties and independent senators. Both Bills were discharged from the Notice Paper in the Senate on 28 October 2014.

It appears that in order to secure passage of those measures which were supported by either Labor or the Greens, the Government has reintroduced measures from the No. 1 Bill and the No. 2 Bill in four new Bills:

The Greens previously stated that they ‘could’ support the measures proposed by the Seniors Supplement Bill.[7] However, Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has since ruled out supporting the Seniors Supplement Bill, stating: ‘We ain’t going to support it’.[8]

Labor expressed support for the measures proposed by the No. 6 Bill and voted with the Government to pass the Bill.[9] The No. 6 Bill passed the Parliament on 17 November 2014 and received Royal Assent on 26 November 2014.[10]

The No. 4 Bill contains measures from the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills which are due to commence from Royal Assent or in 2015. It does not appear at the time of writing this Bills Digest that these measures are supported by Labor or crossbench senators.

The No. 5 Bill contains measures from the No. 2 Bill which will have effect from 2017 or later. At the time of writing this Bills Digest these measures were not supported by Labor or crossbench senators.

Structure of the Bills Digest

The provisions in this Bill are equivalent to certain provisions of the No. 2 Bill. Background and analysis of the measures proposed in this Bill were provided in the Bills Digest for the No. 2 Bill.[11]

As analysis and discussion about the relevant provisions has already been provided, this Bill Digest will briefly set out the particular amendments proposed in this Bill, highlight the differences between those in the No. 2 Bill and those in the No. 5 Bill, and set out new issues of relevance to this Bill.

Purpose and structure of the Bill

The No. 5 Bill amends the Social Security Act 1991 (the SS Act),[12] the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (the VE Act)[13] and the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (the ITAA 1997),[14] to implement a number of social services budget measures. The measures were previously proposed by the No. 2 Bill. Table 1 sets out the measures in the No. 5 Bill and the relevant Schedules in the previous Bill (with links to the relevant sections of the previous Bills Digest).

Table 1: Measures proposed by the No. 5 Bill and provenance in the No. 2 Bill

Measure
Previous Bill
Sch. 1 Part 1—from 1 July 2017: pause indexation of the income test free areas for pension payments and the deeming thresholds for all income support payments Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014—Sch. 1
Sch. 1 Part 2—from 20 September 2017: index all pensions to the Consumer Price Index only, by removing indexation to the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI) and benchmarking to Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE); and reduce the deemed income thresholds for all income support payments No. 2 Bill—Sch. 1
Sch. 2—increase the qualifying age for the age pension, and the non-veteran pension age, to 70, increasing by six months every two years starting from 1 July 2025 No. 2 Bill—Sch. 11

Source: C Ey, M Klapdor, M Thomas and P Yeend, Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014, Bills digest, 16, 2014–15, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2014, accessed 20 October 2014.

Committee consideration

At the time of writing this Bills Digest, the No. 5 Bill had not been referred to any committees for inquiry and report. The measures in the No. 5 Bill were previously considered by the Senate Community Affairs Committee in its inquiry into the provisions of the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills.[15]

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights reported on the No. 5 Bill in its fourteenth report of the 44th Parliament.[16] In this report, the Committee noted that it had previously considered the measures in its reports on the No. 2 Bill and concluded that the measures were compatible with human rights.[17] The Committee noted, however, that it had required further information from the Minister for Social Services on the compatibility of the measures as proposed by the No. 2 Bill and that this additional information should have been included in the Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights for the No. 5 Bill.[18]

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

As required under Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 (Cth), the Government has assessed the Bill’s compatibility with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of that Act.[19] The Government considers that the Bill is compatible.

Policy position of non-government parties/independents

In its response to the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills, Labor stated that it was opposed to all the measures that have been reintroduced as part of the No. 5 Bill.[20]

In their Dissenting Report to the Senate Community Affairs Committee Report on the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills, the Greens expressed concerns at the impact of the measures which are now proposed by the No. 5 Bill and indicated that they were not supportive of the measures.[21] The Dissenting Report stated that the changes to the indexation of pensions was ‘one of the most concerning aspects in the Bills, this is a fundamental change to the pension system and will drastically effect the viability and adequacy of pensions in coming years’.[22]

The Palmer United Party is also opposed to the measures proposed by the No. 5 Bill, particularly the changes to pension indexation and the raising of the pension age to 70.[23]

Position of major interest groups

The position of major interest groups was presented in submissions and evidence to the Senate Community Affairs Committee inquiry into the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills. On 27 August 2014, dozens of community organisations from around Australia issued a joint statement on the Budget’s social security changes. The statement specifically called upon the Parliament to reject the two main measures proposed in the No. 5 Bill: the changed indexation method for pensions and the increase in the pension age from 67 to 70 years.[24]

Seniors group COTA Australia has launched a ‘Hands Off the Pension’ campaign against the measures proposed by the No. 5 Bill.[25] COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates stated that the campaign was in response to the ‘unprecedented’ level of feedback COTA received in regards to the proposed measures:

Pensioners just don't understand why the Abbott Government has targeted them in this way while hundreds of thousands of well off people continue to get superannuation tax concessions bigger than the value of the pension.

These cuts are not the result of any public inquiry or proper policy process; they have not been justified, explained or consulted on; and Pensioners believed Mr Abbott when he promised them in the 2013 Federal election that there would be no changes to the pension.[26]

National Seniors and the Combined Pensioners & Superannuants Association of NSW have also strongly criticised the proposed changes to pension indexation.[27]

Financial implications

The financial implications of the No. 5 Bill are set out on page one of the Explanatory Memorandum.[28] Over the forward estimates, the changes to pension indexation will provide savings of $314.7 million, the pause on the indexation of pension income test free areas and the deeming thresholds will provide savings of $40.9 million and the reduction in the deeming thresholds will provide savings of $32.7 million. Almost all the savings are in 2017–18, being the last year of the forward estimates. As noted in the Bills Digest for the No. 2 Bill, these measures will have the most impact in the years beyond the budget estimates period so the savings figure presented in the Explanatory Memorandum should be considered only a preliminary amount, with the Bill having its real financial impact over the long term.[29]

It is difficult to compare the measures with those put forward in the No. 2 Bill as some components of the Schedules in the original Bill have been split. However, based on the information provided in the Explanatory Memorandum it appears that there are no notable differences in terms of the financial impact of the measures proposed by the No. 5 Bill.

Key issues and provisions

This section will provide a brief summary of the proposed measures and any differences with the relevant provisions proposed in the No. 2 Bill. For detailed background information and discussion of relevant issues, see the Bills Digests for the No. 2 Bill.

Schedule 1—Indexation and deeming thresholds

Schedule 1 amends the ITAA 1997, the SS Act and the VE Act to:

  • pause indexation of the income test thresholds for all pension payments (including the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment and veterans’ Service Pension) and the deeming thresholds for all income support payments for three years from 1 July 2017
  • change the way pension rates are indexed, so that the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI) is no longer included in the indexation process, and pension rates are no longer benchmarked to Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE), from 20 September 2017 and
  • reduce the deemed income thresholds for all social security and veterans’ payments from 20 September 2017.

Differences with the No. 2 Bill

Identical measures were proposed by Schedule 1 of the No. 2 Bill.[30] The primary difference is that Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the No. 2 Bill proposed a pause on the indexation of pension assets test thresholds from 1 July 2017 and an indexation pause on the income and assets test thresholds for student payments from 1 July 2015. The pause on the indexation of the asset test thresholds for pensions and student payments has been separated from the pause on the income test thresholds and included in Schedule 1 of the No. 6 Bill (as the Opposition supports these measures). The pause on the indexation of the income test and other means test thresholds for student payments is now included in Schedule 1 of the No. 4 Bill.

Indexation pause

The income test thresholds are the amounts a person can have in income before their pension payment begins to be reduced. The deemed income thresholds affect the amount of income an income support recipient is deemed to have derived from financial assets. These thresholds are adjusted once a year, on 1 July, in line with movements in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Currently, single pensioners can have income of $160 per fortnight and couples can have a combined income up to $284 per fortnight before their payment is reduced.[31] For each dollar of income over the threshold amount (or ‘free area’), a single pensioner loses 50 cents of their payment while a partnered pensioner loses 25 cents of their payment. Pausing indexation (that is, not adjusting the threshold amounts annually) is a simple way of finding budget savings without directly cutting benefits or limiting eligibility. The threshold amounts will decline in real value over time and savings arise as payment rates are reduced as payment recipients’ income gradually increases beyond the relevant thresholds.

Changes to pension indexation

Part 1 of Schedule 1 of this Bill proposes to change the way pension payments are indexed from 20 September 2017, so that only the CPI is used and the PBCLI and MTAWE measures are removed from the adjustment formula.[32] A related measure, changing the indexation method of Parenting Payment Single so that it is no longer benchmarked to MTAWE, is contained in the No. 4 Bill and is intended to commence from 1 January 2015.

The adjustment of pension rates is anomalous in the social security system in making use of both the CPI and a separate index, the PBLCI, as well as making use of a ‘benchmark’.[33] Currently, pensions (including the Age Pension, Veterans’ Service Pension, Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment) are indexed twice each year by the greater of the movement in the CPI or the PBLCI. They are then benchmarked against a percentage of MTAWE. The combined couple rate is benchmarked to 41.76 per cent of MTAWE; the single rate of pension is set at 66.33 per cent of the combined couple rate (which is equal to around 27.7 per cent of MTAWE).[34] ‘Benchmarked’ means that after it has been indexed, the combined couple rate is checked to see whether it is equal to or higher than 41.76 per cent of MTAWE. If the rate is lower than this percentage, the rates are increased to the appropriate benchmark level.

The CPI is a measure of changes in the prices paid by households for a fixed basket of goods and services.[35] Adjusting (or indexing) payment rates in line with movements in the CPI, maintains their ‘real’ value over time, in the sense that the payment should be able to purchase the same amount of goods and services over time.

The PBLCI is another method for measuring changes in costs. It is different from the CPI in that, instead of measuring changing prices in a fixed basket of goods as experienced by the general population, it measures the effect of changes in prices on the out-of-pocket living expenses experienced by age pensioner and other households whose main source of income is a government payment. The PBLCI is designed to check whether the disposable income of these government payment recipients has kept pace with price changes.

The use of the MTAWE benchmark serves a different purpose from indexation. Generally, it is not intended to maintain the value of the pension relative to costs; rather, it is seen as ensuring pensioners maintain a certain standard of living, relative to the rest of the population.

Which indexation factor drives rate increases?

Since it was legislated, the MTAWE benchmark has been the main driver of pension rate increases. The Harmer Review of Pensions found that of the 23 pension indexation points preceding the 2009 report, 15 pension increases had been driven by the MTAWE benchmark and eight by CPI indexation.[36] The introduction of the PBLCI has slightly dampened the influence of the MTAWE benchmark: the new index has driven four of the eleven pension increases since it was introduced in 2009 (including the most recent).

Impact of the changes

The proposed changes will mean that pensions are indexed according to movements in the CPI—this will mean the end of automatic real increases in pension rates but will maintain the real value of the payment rates over time. Pensioners will see lower increases in their payments than would have been anticipated, and will gradually fall behind in relative measures of income and living standards. However, the pension’s relativity with other income support payments will be maintained.

In Answer to Questions on Notice at Senate Budget Estimates hearings, the Department of Social Services indicated that they anticipated the single rate of pension would be around ten dollars lower per fortnight after a year of CPI-only indexation than it would be if current settings continued.[37] This is equivalent to an annual difference of $254.80 for single rate pensioners and $384.80 for a pensioner couple (combined). These projections are based on the Treasury forecasts used in estimating the financial impact of the measure. The following table sets out the estimated impact of the change one year after implementation (from September 2017 to an annual average for 2018–19):

Table 2: Projected differences between pension rates one year after new indexation method implemented

Pensions
Rates one year after implementation (2018)
Single—CPI only $864.40 per fortnight
Single—current indexation settings $874.20 per fortnight
Couple (each)—CPI only $651.60 per fortnight
Couple (each)—current indexation settings $659.00 per fortnight

Source: Senate Community Affairs Committee, Answers to Questions on Notice, Social Services Portfolio, Budget Estimates 2014–15, 4 and 5 June 2014, Question 313, accessed 4 November 2014.

The Department also estimated that the measure would affect 3.8 million recipients of Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment, Bereavement Allowance, Wife Pension (Age and Disability), and Widow B Pension in 2017–18.[38] The Department of Veterans’ Affairs estimates that the measure will affect an estimated 220,000 veterans or dependents in receipt of Service Pension, Income Support Supplement, Disability Pension and War Widow/ers Pension.[39]

Reducing the deeming test thresholds

Part 2 of Schedule 1 of this Bill also proposes to reduce the deemed income thresholds used in the income tests for social security[40] and veterans’ payments.[41] Deemed income, or ‘deeming’, is the method used to assess income derived from financial assets such as bank accounts, term deposits and share portfolios. Rather than trying to account for actual income derived from different types of financial investments, the means test ‘deems’ that investments are earning a certain rate of income based on the value of the assets.

The deemed rate of income increases with the value of the assets. The rate is applied to the total value of all financial assets subject to deeming. Currently a deeming rate of two per cent applies to the first:

  • $48,000 of a single person’s total financial investments
  • $79,600 of a pensioner couple’s total financial investments and
  • $39,800 of total financial investments for each member of a couple in receipt of an allowance payment (such as Newstart Allowance).[42]

A deeming rate of 3.5 per cent applies to financial investments above these amounts. The thresholds at which the higher deeming rate applies are indexed in line with movements in the CPI in July of each year (though amendments proposed in Part 1 of Schedule 1 will pause the indexation of these amounts for three years from 1 July 2017).[43]

The Bill proposes to reduce the threshold amounts to:

  • $30,000 for a single person’s total financial investments
  • $50,000 for a pensioner couple’s total financial investments and
  • $25,000 for the total financial investments for each member of a couple in receipt of an allowance payment.

The reduced thresholds will apply from 20 September 2017.

Impact of the reduction in deeming thresholds

The Bill proposes to reduce the deeming thresholds to the same level as when deeming was first introduced in 1996. Amendments provided for in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Bill will also mean that the deeming thresholds will not be indexed for three years from 1 July 2017. The threshold reduction will commence on 20 September 2017, and the indexation pause means that the rates will remain the same until 1 July 2020.

The measure will affect any pensioner with financial investments subject to the deeming provisions as a higher amount of income will fall under the income test. For example, a single person with $100,000 in financial assets would have an additional $270 included in the income test under the reduced thresholds compared to the current levels (assuming the same deeming rates applied).

Schedule 2—Pension age

Schedule 2 amends the SS Act and the VE Act to raise the Age Pension qualifying age and the non-veteran pension age from 67 to 70 years by six month increments every two years, commencing on 1 July 2025. The current qualifying age is 65 years. Changes by the Labor Government will see the current qualifying age increase by six months every two years from 1 July 2017, reaching 67 by 1 July 2023. If the measures proposed by this Schedule are passed, the qualifying age for the Age Pension will be 70 from 1 July 2035.

While the VE Act is amended to raise the pension age for non-veteran men and women, the eligibility age for Service Pension for veterans will remain 60 years and is not affected by the proposed amendments.

Table 3 replicates a table from the Department of Social Services setting out the timing of the proposed changes to the Age Pension qualifying age and how different birth cohorts will be affected.

Table 3: Age pension age change proposals—increments and cohorts affected

Age to which pension age will be raised
Date this age applies
Cohort affected (date of birth ranges)
Earliest date from which cohort can begin to qualify for Age Pension
67.5 1 July 2025 1 July 1958 to 31 December 1959 1 January 2026
68 1 July 2027 1 January 1960 to 30 June 1961 1 January 2028
68.5 1 July 2029 1 July 1961 to 31 December 1962 1 January 2030
69 1 July 2031 1 January 1963 to 30 June 1964 1 January 2032
69.5 1 July 2033 1 July 1964 to 31 December 1965 1 January 2034
70 1 July 2035 1 January 1966 and later 1 January 2036
Source: Senate Community Affairs Committee, Answers to Questions on Notice, Social Services Portfolio, Budget Estimates 2014–15, 4 and 5 June 2014, Question 667, accessed 4 November 2014.

No differences with the No. 2 Bill

Equivalent measures were proposed by Schedule 11 of the No. 2 Bill. There are no differences between those amendments and those in Schedule 2 of the No. 5 Bill.

Concluding comments

The measures proposed in the No. 5 Bill are currently opposed by Labor, the Greens, and the Palmer United Party. Seniors groups and other welfare organisations are campaigning against the contentious changes to indexation and the raising of the pension age.

As the Bills Digest for the No. 2 Bill noted, concerns over the sustainability of the current pension system underlie the rationale for the measures but questions remain as to whether the measures are fair, equitable, or likely to be effective, without broader reform of the retirement income system.[44] Options that could be considered alongside the Bill’s proposals include tighter targeting of pensions and reform of superannuation to encourage higher levels of self-reliance in retirement.

Members, Senators and Parliamentary staff can obtain further information from the Parliamentary Library on (02) 6277 2500.



[1].         Parliament of Australia, ‘Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 1) Bill 2014 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 20 October 2014.

[2].         Parliament of Australia, ‘Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 20 October 2014.

[3].         Parliament of Australia, ‘Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Seniors Supplement Cessation) Bill 2014 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 20 October 2014.

[4].         Parliament of Australia, ‘Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 4) Bill 2014 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 20 October 2014.

[5].         Parliament of Australia, ‘Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 5) Bill 2014 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 20 October 2014.

[6].         Parliament of Australia, ‘Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 6) Bill 2014 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 20 October 2014.

[7].         Australian Greens, Dissenting report, Senate Community Affairs Committee, Inquiry into the provisions of the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 1) Bill 2014 and the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014, The Senate, Canberra, 2014, accessed 20 October 2014. See also R Siewert, Greens statement on Seniors Supplement, media release, 1 October 2014, accessed 20 October 2014.

[8].         J Ireland, ‘Seniors supplement stand-off’, The Age, 28 October 2014, p. 5, accessed 28 October 2014.

[9].         J Macklin (Shadow Minister for Families and Payments), ‘Second reading speech: Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 6) Bill 2014’, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 October 2014, p. 9, accessed 20 October 2014.

[10].      Parliament of Australia, ‘Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 6) Bill 2014 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 20 October 2014.

[11].      C Ey, M Klapdor, M Thomas and P Yeend, Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014, Bills digest, 16, 2014–15, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2014, accessed 20 October 2014.

[12].      Social Security Act 1991, accessed 6 November 2014.

[13].      Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986, accessed 6 November 2014.

[14].      Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, accessed 28 November 2014.

[15].      Senate Community Affairs Committee, Inquiry into the provisions of the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 1) Bill 2014 and the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014, The Senate, Canberra, 2014, accessed 20 October 2014.

[16].      Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Fourteenth report of the 44th Parliament, The Senate, October 2014, pp. 96–97, accessed 30 October 2014.

[17].      Ibid.

[18].      Ibid.

[19].      The Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights can be found at page 10 of the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill.

[20].      J Macklin (Shadow Minister for Families and Payments), Labor to fight Abbott’s unfair cuts to pensioners, families and young people, media release, 24 June 2014, accessed 20 October 2014.

[21].      Australian Greens, Dissenting report, op. cit.

[22].      Ibid., p. 64.

[23].      S Maiden, ‘Hockey pension cuts on ice’, The Sunday Mail (Adelaide), 21 September 2014, p. 1, accessed 3 November 2014; J Ireland, ‘Palmer rejects social services bills’, The Sunday Age, 21 September 2014, p. 9, accessed 3 November 2014.

[24].      Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), Joint sector statement on budget social security changes, media release, 27 August 2014, accessed 20 October 2014.

[25].      COTA Australia, ‘Hands off the pension’, COTA Australia website, accessed 3 November 2014.

[26].      COTA Australia, Older Australians launch campaign to protect the pension, media release, 21 August 2014, accessed 3 November 2014.

[27].      National Seniors, Welcome news on pension indexation, media release, 2 October 2014, accessed 3 November 2014; Combined Pensioners & Superannuants Association of NSW Inc., Tomorrow’s pension rise: 19% lower if Abbott’s pension cuts were in play, media release, 19 September 2014, accessed 3 November 2014.

[28].      Explanatory Memorandum, Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 5) Bill 2014, p. 1, accessed 3 November 2014.

[29].      C Ey et al, op. cit., p. 6.

[30].      Items 3–13 in Part 2 of Schedule 1 of the No. 2 Bill.

[31].      This amount could be higher if a person is also receiving Rent Assistance. Department of Human Services (DHS), A guide to Australian Government payments, DHS, 2014, p. 36, accessed 4 November 2014.

[32].      Items 7 and 8 of Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Bill.

[33].      Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Selected living cost indexes, Australia, September 2014, cat. no. 6467.0, ABS, Canberra, 29 October 2014, accessed 4 November 2014.

[34].      ABS, Average weekly earnings, Australia, November 2013, cat. no. 6302.0, ABS, Canberra, 20 February 2014, accessed 4 November 2014.

[35].      Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Consumer price index, Australia, September 2014, cat. no. 6401.0, ABS, Canberra, October 2014, accessed 4 November 2014.

[36].      Pension Review Taskforce, Pension review report, (Harmer Review), Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), Canberra, 27 February 2009, p. 64, accessed 4 November 2014.

[37].      Senate Community Affairs Committee, Answers to Questions on Notice, Social Services Portfolio, Budget Estimates 2014–15, 4 and 5 June 2014, Question 313, accessed 4 November 2014.

[38].      This figure represents the estimated number of recipients of those payments in 2017–18 as all pension recipients will be affected. Senate Community Affairs Committee, Answers to Questions on Notice, Social Services Portfolio, Budget Estimates 2014–15, 4 and 5 June 2014, Question 303, accessed 1 December 2014.

[39].      Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, Answers to Questions on Notice, Veterans’ Affairs Portfolio, Budget Estimates
2014–15, 3 June 2014, Question 4, accessed 4 November 2014.

[40].      Items 15–18 of Part 2 of Schedule 1 of the Bill.

[41].      Items 19–21 of Part 2 of Schedule 1 of the Bill.

[42].      DSS, ‘4.4.1.10 Overview of deeming’, Guide to Social Security Law, DSS website, accessed 4 November 2014.

[43].      DSS, ‘4.4.1.20 Operation of deeming’, Guide to Social Security Law, DSS website, accessed 4 November 2014.

[44].      C Ey et al, op. cit., pp. 54–55.

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