No one should have to choose between paying for electricity, water or healthcare. However, that’s the choice that might be faced by some pensioners and concession cardholders as a result of the state and federal Liberal governments.
Up until now the federal government has provided states with money to supply certain concessions for pensioners and Seniors Card holders. The Federal government announced in the 2014 Federal Budget that these concessions for local government rates including land, water and sewerage; energy; motor vehicle registration and public transport concessions would be scrapped. The prospect that pensioners will lose these concessions is real.
Through questioning in state parliament Labor was able to secure a guarantee that pension concessions would be maintained by the state government until the August budget. However, there is currently no guarantee that these concessions will remain after the state budget is handed down on 28th August. A removal of these concessions would see each Tasmanian pensioner and concession cardholder slugged with around $90 extra worth of charges, for essential services such as rates, transport costs, electricity and water bills. This cost could be on top of the introduction of a GP co-payment and increase on the co-payment on prescriptions if these measures are passed by the Senate.
Around the country other states, such as New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland have already provided guarantees that they will fund the shortfall to concession card holders due to the Federal budget cuts. The Tasmanian government must do the same.
I encourage anyone concerned by these possible changes to contact their local Liberal member and urge them to ensure that provisions are made within the budget to maintain pensioner concessions.