Labor premiers team up on pensioner cuts
Three Labor premiers have written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott demanding the reinstatement of Commonwealth funding for pensioner concessions ahead of the federal budget.
The Abbott government last year cut $223 million for water, electricity and rate concessions over four years.
Queensland’s former Liberal National Party (LNP) government initially said it would only pick up 10 per cent of the shortfall, but then agreed to bridge the gap after a public backlash.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told state parliament on Wednesday that she had formed an alliance with her Victorian counterpart Daniel Andrews and South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, to demand the reinstatement of the money.
“Why should the state have to pick up the burden of what has been in the past solely the responsibility of the federal government, to provide that funding to the states across Australia?” she asked.
“This is the right thing to do. It should never have been ripped out in the first place.”
The South Australian government on Tuesday renewed its own calls for the funding to be returned.
South Australian treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said federal counterpart Joe Hockey will be unable to repair his relationship with local pensioners until he reinstates the annual $30 million in concessions to help cover rates, utility bills, public transport fares and car registrations.
In South Australia, the state government is picking up the tab until July and the opposition says it should fund the concessions over the long term, just like other state governments.
Treasurer Joe Hockey will hand down his budget on Tuesday.