New rules for travellers may see pensioners worse off

New rules for travellers may see pensioners worse off.

The federal government recently put forward the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Payments Integrity) Bill 2019 to Parliament.

This draft legislation, which was first put forward in the 2017-18 Budget, has reared its ugly head again.

If passed, this Bill will cease the pension supplement for people travelling overseas.

What is the pension supplement?

The Pension Supplement is a fortnightly payment for a single at a minimum of $37.00 up to a maximum of $68.90 (rates for couples range from $55.80 to $103.80 combined).

The pension supplement is a combined payment of the pharmaceutical allowance, utilities allowance, GST supplement and telephone allowance.

Currently, payment of the pension supplement continues if a recipient permanently departs or has a temporary absence longer than 6 weeks. Although it does decline to the basic amount after 6 weeks. (Refer Age pension travel rules)

Changes will cease the pension supplement

If passed, the legislation will cease the Pension Supplement completely if someone departs Australia permanently or after 6 weeks of temporary absence.

This change is likely to annoy the many older Australians who travel overseas on holidays or to visit family or friends.

The explanatory statement attached to the draft legislation claims that the cut to the pension supplement is justifiable because the GST supplement is not needed when overseas.

“Pensioners who leave Australia permanently or who are temporarily absent from Australia for more than six weeks are unlikely to be impacted by the Australian GST and it is therefore not appropriate to continue to pay them the pension supplement basic amount.”

However, this alone does not justify cutting the supplement completely.

Stop pollies pinching from the pockets of pensioners.

Just because you are gone more than 6 weeks doesn’t mean your telco or utility provider ceases to charge you. Most people are locked into contracts or continue to incur utility costs regardless of usage.

Also, the pharmaceutical allowance component of the supplement is valid. Many people buy all the pharmaceuticals they need for their travel before they go, so they are assured that they do not run out while they travel.

If you think this situation stinks, sign our petition to stop the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Payments Integrity) Bill 2019. If a person goes overseas permanently, there would be a justification for removing the supplement, however, if a person leaves on a temporary basis, then the present situation should remain