435,000 pensioners hit by cuts to Qld concessions
MORE than 435,000 aged pensioners will be worse off under the Queensland Budget, unless the Commonwealth reinstates its funding contribution for pensioner concessions on energy, rates, and transport.
This funding cut will affect not only older people but also veterans, people with disability, carers, and single parents.
Mark Tucker-Evans, Chief Executive of Council on the Ageing (COTA) Queensland has urged Queensland Premier Campbell Newman to continue funding for core concessions even without the Australian Government contribution.
According to the State Budget Concessions Statement 2014-15, individual concessions for electricity, gas, rates, water, car registration, and public transport fares will be reduced unless the Australian Government reinstates its National Partnership funding for concessions.
"Concessions on council rates, motor vehicle registration, energy and public transport are vital to Queensland pensioners - and have been a significant part of the social safety net since the Commonwealth Pensioner Concession Card was introduced 20 years ago,'' Mr Tucker-Evans said.
"Concessions on rates, energy and water help older people stay at home longer - this is an overall benefit to the aged care system.
"Concessions on motor vehicle and public transport help older people stay connected to their communities - this is an overall benefit to the health system.
"The unravelling of these concession arrangements is a failure of federation," he said.
"I would encourage Queensland's 12 Senators, regardless of their political affiliation, to work together to reinstate Australian Government funding to Queensland of $54.2 million in the 2014-15 budget."
Pensioners hit by cuts to concessions in Newman budget
PENSIONERS will be worse off after the Queensland Budget, with Treasury documents warning cuts made to pensioner concessions at a federal level "will need to be passed on".
It is unclear what the warning means for a range of pensioner concessions, including discounts on electricity, rates, water, gas, vehicle registration and public transport.
The Federal decision to dump its concession agreement with the states in its budget means $233.3 million will vanish from the program over four years.
The Newman Government has vowed to maintain its current funding for concessions -- $335.6 million for the coming 12 months -- but there would still be a shortfall of about 15% left by the federal cuts.
Queensland Council of Social Services chief Mark Henley said it was critical that pensioners be properly supported.
"This is a flow-on impact of the Federal Budget and it's something we ask the Queensland Government to look at seriously," Mr Henley said.
He called for concessions to be reviewed to ensure the most vulnerable in the community are protected.
Treasurer Tim Nicholls said the government would not be able to absorb the extra costs.
He said pensioners would see reduced discounts from October.