National Party Senator Fiona Nash has caused needless distress for thousands of pensioners in Page by telling them that the utilities allowance has been scrapped, Member for Page Janelle Saffin said today.

She said the Utilities allowance has not been scrapped, and Senator Nash must apologise to every person on a pension in Page for the trouble she has caused them by sending out this cruel misinformation.

“Under the Rudd Government’s pension reforms announced in the Budget, there is an increase in the total pension supplements which includes utilities allowance, the GST supplement, the Pharmaceutical Allowance and the internet allowance,” Ms Saffin said.

“I am outraged that Senator Nash has used taxpayers’ money to send out a newsletter that has caused so much grief and had hundreds of worried pensioners contacting me.

“From September 20 this year, single pensioners will have their base rate pension increase by $30 a week, and on top of that their total pension supplements will increase by $2.49 a week, taking the total supplements from $1320 a year up to $1462 a year.

“For couples there is an increase of $10.14 a week in the total pension supplements, taking total supplements from $1660 to $2199 a year.

“The National Party had almost 12 years in Coalition Government to introduce an increase in the base pension, but didn’t do it. 

“Last September, when the Harmer Pension review was well under way, the Coalition said a pension rise couldn’t wait and it cobbled together a bill which Senator Coonan introduced in the Senate. But the Coalition had so little interest in their own bill they had no second speaker for it. Where was Senator Nash then?

“So much for Senator Nash’s interest in the pensions issue.

“Senator Nash has done nothing for the pensioners in this electorate but cause them grief and if she won’t apologise to them I challenge her to debate the pension reforms with me.”