Greens to support 2015 Budget age pension changes in Senate

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Age Pension changes, Budget 2015, Greens, Government, Parliament, Tax White Paper process, Tax Discussion PaperThe Greens have reached an agreement with the Government to support changes to the age pension announced in the 2015 Federal Budget. This comes after the Labor party said they would oppose the measures.

The 2015 Budget included changes to the assets test and taper rate for the age pension, to apply from 1 January 2017. The Greens say these changes will make the pension system fairer.

“The Greens opposed the Howard Government changes to pensions back in 2007. Now we’re restoring the system to ensure that everyone has a decent retirement,” said Greens Leader Richard Di Natale.

“All Australians deserve a system that supports them in retirement, not just the wealthy.”

The Coalition has 33 seats in the Senate, combined with the 10 Greens gives a majority in the 76 seat chamber.

Extension to Tax Discussion Paper consultation period

Senator Di Natale said, as part of the age pension deal, the Government had agreed to give “special consideration to retirement incomes in its Tax White Paper,” which is currently at the Tax Discussion Paper stage.

Greens community affairs spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert said, “the broad retirement income review we’ve secured will be delivered as part of the Tax Review process.  The terms of reference are explicit about involving stakeholders at every stage, to build on the already strong appetite for further change, particularly to the super tax concessions.

“The review will have a focus on pensions, superannuation, taxation and workplace discrimination, to guide the important reforms that Australians need.”

However it appears the Greens have not secured a review of retirement income, but merely an extension in the consultation process for the Tax White Paper. As part of this deal the Treasurer announced the consultation period for the Tax Discussion Paper, which closed on 1 June, will be reopened and extended to 24 July 2015.

“As a result of the strong public response to the Tax White Paper, stakeholder interest in the retirement incomes component of this review and discussions with the Senate, the Government has decided to extend the submission period by six weeks and initiate an additional stakeholder engagement process,” said Treasurer Joe Hockey.

“The extension allows more time for interested parties to put their views into the Tax White Paper process in relation to key interactions between the age pension, superannuation, taxation and employment, consistent with the Government’s objective of ensuring stability and the commitments we have made to the Australian people.”

“This will facilitate more detailed consideration of the interactions between the tax system and the transfer system, including the sustainability of Australia’s retirement income arrangements.”

However the Treasurer also reiterated the promise of “no unexpected, adverse changes to superannuation in this term of Government,” and that there are no plans for “such changes beyond the next election.”

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