Shorten heading to Bendigo

FEDERAL Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will visit Bendigo on Tuesday amid concerns over changes to the pension.

The government has not outlined in detail changes to the pension, but Treasurer Joe Hockey has said an age change is “inevitable”.

“We should celebrate the fact that effectively one in every three children born today are going to live to 100,” he told ABC Radio this week.

“We should also not see someone's life ending when they turn 65 or 70.

“They should work for as long as they can.”

Mr Shorten will discuss the changes with pensioners at Kangaroo Flat during Tuesday’s visit.

Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said she was concerned about the potential changes.

“Mr Shorten will be popping round for morning tea to learn first-hand what it’s like to survive on the pension and what it would mean if some of the mooted or rumoured changes are implemented,” she said.

“For example, the cuts to the rate and changes to indexation.

“Winter’s coming up and there’s talk that gas prices could increase by as much as 17 per cent.

“How is that going to affect someone who’s trying to survive on the pension?”

Ms Chesters said it was a question of priorities.

“Should it be our pensioners or should it be introducing a very expensive paid maternity leave system that only a very few on high incomes can benefit from?”

Mr Hockey has hinted at wide cuts in his first budget on May 13, and has spoken of the need for people to make contributions to Medicare.

A spokesperson for Mr Hockey said the government was fulfilling an election pledge. 

"The Coalition was elected on a pledge to fix the budget and address Labor’s waste and mismanagement," she said. 

"The latest budget update outlined a historic run of deficits and debt projected to reach $667 billion.

"Labor is now blocking more than $20 billion in savings in the parliament – including $5 billion of their very own savings they took to the election.

"They have no credibility.

"If Lisa Chester (sic) is concerned about rising gas prices, she and her Labor colleagues should abolish the carbon tax.

"The Coalition is keeping its commitment to repeal the carbon tax, while at the same time keeping the personal income tax cuts and pension increases that were delivered as part of the carbon tax package."

Shadow for Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Brendan O’Connor will also visit Bendigo on Thursday.

Ms Chesters said Mr O’Connor would talk about penalty rates as part of “frank discussions” with key stakeholders.

He will also discuss challenges with youth employment, she said. 

-with the Sydney Morning Herald

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