Supporting older Australians and carers

The Government believes that older Australians should share in the prosperity they have helped to create. The Government recognises that many older Australians and carers face higher costs and will provide $586 million in additional support to help meet these costs. In this budget, the Government will also allow more rural residents to access the Age or Service Pension, at a cost of $173 million.

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Sharing our prosperity

Helping our seniors meet costs

To assist with the cost of household bills the Government will provide a one‑off payment of $102.80 to each household with a person of Age or Service Pension age eligible for Utilities Allowance and to each self‑funded retiree eligible for Seniors Concession Allowance. These will be paid by 30 June 2006 at a cost of $193 million.

The Government is also extending eligibility for the Utilities Allowance to recipients of Mature Age Allowance, Partner Allowance and Widow Allowance. They will receive the same one off payment as those currently

eligible for Utilities Allowance by 30 June 2006. They will then receive Utilities Allowance every 6 months from September 2006, at a cost of $36 million.

Recognising the work of carers

The Government also recognises the special contribution of those who look after people with a disability, and will provide a $1,000 bonus payment to recipients of the Carer Payment and a $600 bonus payment to recipients of the Carer Allowance, by 30 June 2006, at a cost of $358 million. The $1,000 payment will also be made to people who receive both Carer Allowance and either the Wife Pension, or the Veterans' Affairs Partner Service Pension.

Pension help for rural residents

Currently, some people in rural areas cannot access the pension due to the value of the land around their family home. Where a person has had a 20 year connection to the land and it would be unreasonable for them to realise the value of this land by selling or leasing it, the Government will exempt the entire value of the land on the same title as their home from the pension assets test. This is expected to cost $173 million over the next four years.

Currently, only the home and an area of up to 2 hectares is exempt.

Chart: $759 million to assist older people and carers

$759 million to assist older people and carers

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16 2006‑07 Budget Overview