July 3, 2011

AUSTRALIA: Carbon cash for retirees

SYDNEY, NSW / The Sydney Morning Herald / Environment / July 3, 2011

By Jessica Wright


Retirees to get a helping hand after the carbon tax is introduced.
Photo: Glen Hunt

SELF-FUNDED retirees will receive quarterly cash payments from the federal government to make up for rises in everyday household bill costs associated with a carbon tax.

As the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee inches closer to a final deal on the tax, the government will match the sweetener delivered to pensioners when it unveils details of its compensation package.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, will also pledge that motorists will be spared an increase in petrol prices as fuel will never be subject to the carbon tax, even if an emissions trading scheme is introduced in 2015, News Ltd reports.

For almost 300,000 self-funded retirees who already hold a Seniors Health Card, household assistance would be delivered through the seniors supplement.

It is understood that, of this number, 100,000 self-funded retirees will also receive tax cuts to help meet the added costs of the carbon tax.

Single people who earn up to $50,000 a year and couples earning $80,000 a year combined from their superannuation or other investments would receive a dollar-for-dollar payment equal to any indexed rise in the pension.

Pensioners are expected to receive a 2.5 per cent increase to their regular payments - a rise of about $500 a year for singles and $760 for couples - and that would be replicated for the nation's low- to middle-income-earning retirees.

The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, has promised ''millions of households will be better off under the carbon price''. More than 1 million low-income households will receive assistance equal to 120 per cent or more of their cost of living increases.

The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said self-funded retirees had been hit hard in recent years by the global recession and would not be excluded from extra financial help.

"Self-funded retirees have worked hard all their lives to build up our country and provide for their own retirement, so the Gillard government is determined to provide cost-of-living help as we go about cutting carbon pollution," he said. "Australians on low, middle and fixed incomes have been front and centre for the Gillard government and we'll make sure we keep looking after them."

The government has already confirmed nine out of 10 households would receive a mix of tax cuts and increased payments to offset costs associated with the carbon tax.

Ms Gillard confirmed last week that tax cuts and increased family payments would form the bulk part of the carbon price compensation package.

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