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September 23, 2008

The pressure is on Labor backbenchers to stand up for older Gippslanders and support an urgent increase in pension payments, according to The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.

Mr Chester has welcomed the passing of the Opposition’s Bill through the Senate which would increase the single age, single service age and widow B pension by $30 a week.

The Bill must now pass through the House of Representatives in order for pensioners to receive the benefit.  It is not expected to be passed through the House of Representatives, because of the Labor Government’s majority.

Mr Chester said Labor backbenchers would be feeling the pressure from their constituents to vote in favour of the Opposition’s Bill.

He said it was hypocricitcal of the Federal Government to oppose the Bill when everyone from the Prime Minister down has admitted that they could not live on $273 per week as a singLe age pensioner.

“Pensioners and veterans are the first step and I fully support further moves to increase the benefits to those on the Disability Support Pension and recipients of carer payments,” Mr Chester said.

Mr Chester was elected on a campaign of fighting for a fair go for pensioners in Gippsland.

He said it was time for both sides of politics to get serious about helping pensioners, carers and people with disabilities.

Having only attended three weeks of Parliament, Mr Chester has already raised the issue in the House of Representatives on two separate occasions and has generated support for an immediate pension rise among his Coalition colleagues.

“The question is not how this can be factored into the budget – it is whether a wealthy nation can live with itself if it continues to neglect the basic needs of so many people,” Mr Chester said.

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