Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews
Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews

Age pension 'off the table' as axe to swing on welfare

SOCIAL Services Minister Kevin Andrews has ruled out any changes to the age pension under a review of income support, despite the pension  likely being the biggest hit to the government's bottom line in coming years.

The Abbott Government has outlined plans for a 10-year review of income support in Australia, with potential cuts to disability support payments, Newstart and other allowances.

But despite more than 2.2 million of the 3.2 million-odd Australian over 65 receiving the aged pension, a figure expected to grow as the over-65 age group booms up to 5.8 million in 2031, Mr Andrew has ruled out changes to the pension.

He said the government was not proposing to cut the aged pension; it was about "the long-term sustainability of the income support system".

Mr Andrews cited the "rapidly aging" population and "very significant demographic change" in Australia connected with the aging population.

He said any prudent government should be looking at how to sustain income support payments into the future.

But despite the growing cost to the federal budget of the aged pension, he said it would not be touched.

Instead, the government will look to recoup costs through potential changes to the disability support pension, which has grown only marginally in the past 10 years.

The Newstart Allowance, which social service groups have long criticised as not high enough to live on, will also be one of the support payments under review.

Mr Andrews said the review would be led by former Mission Australia head Patrick McClure, who was a key advisor to Mr Andrews during the Coalition's time in Opposition.



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