House of Representatives Speech- Isaacs Electorate 2012

I rise to speak about the Victorian Liberal government's intention to increase public housing rent for pensioners and also about recent Australia Day and Vietnamese New Year celebrations in my electorate. In 2009, the federal Labor government implemented historic reforms to the pension system to help Australian pensioners with cost-of-living pressures. For the 23,900 pensioners living in my electorate, this was fantastic news. Since September 2009, the government's reforms have delivered increases to the maximum pension rate of about $148 per fortnight for singles and $146 per fortnight for couples, combined. At the time of these important Labor reforms, all states and territories rightly agreed to quarantine this pension increase from rent calculations to assist pensioners to make ends meet. This protection for pensioners has been ripped away by the Baillieu government, which has revoked the Victorian government commitment and is trying to extract an extra $10 per week from the most vulnerable in our community.

I rise to speak about the Victorian Liberal government's intention to increase public housing rent for pensioners and also about recent Australia Day and Vietnamese New Year celebrations in my electorate. In 2009, the federal Labor government implemented historic reforms to the pension system to help Australian pensioners with cost-of-living pressures. For the 23,900 pensioners living in my electorate, this was fantastic news. Since September 2009, the government's reforms have delivered increases to the maximum pension rate of about $148 per fortnight for singles and $146 per fortnight for couples, combined. At the time of these important Labor reforms, all states and territories rightly agreed to quarantine this pension increase from rent calculations to assist pensioners to make ends meet. This protection for pensioners has been ripped away by the Baillieu government, which has revoked the Victorian government commitment and is trying to extract an extra $10 per week from the most vulnerable in our community.

This came as a great shock to my constituent Anton Bennett, who could not understand why the Baillieu government would deliver this hit to pensioners. While I share Anton's dismay, pensioners in my electorate should not be surprised by the Baillieu government's contempt for Victorians. This is a Liberal government that has already cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the state education budget, slashed VCAL funding and cut the Take a Break program, and it now has vulnerable pensioners in its sights. While state Liberal MPs Lorraine Wreford, Donna Bauer and Inga Peulich have been silent on the damaging cuts to education, this recent blow to pensioners serves as a perfect opportunity for them to stand up for their constituents and demand that Mr Baillieu reinstate the agreement to quarantine the federal Labor government's 2009 pension increases from public housing rent calculations.

On a more positive note, I recently attended Australia Day celebrations in the cities of Kingston and Frankston. The celebrations honoured the citizens of the year and welcomed our newest Australian citizens. I congratulate Kingston's Citizen of the Year, Thelma Mansfield; Outstanding Citizen of the year, Brian Lowe; and Young Citizen of the Year, Jack Styles, on their awards. I also congratulate Frankston's Citizen of the Year, Gwen Dearsley, and Young Citizen of the Year, Kimberley Pellosis. Former mayor of Kingston Ron Brownlees and former mayor of Moorabbin Neil Hamilton were awarded the Order of Australia Medal for their many years of service to local government and the community. I thank Ron and Neil for their long and excellent service.

Last Sunday, I joined thousands of people to celebrate the Year of the Dragon at the Vietnamese Tet festival at Sandown Park. The crowds were treated to traditional ceremonies, breathtaking lion dancers, fireworks and family fun activities. This year's festival also commemorated 50 years since the initial involvement of Australian forces in Vietnam. I thank Bon Nguyen, President of the Victorian Chapter of the Vietnamese Community in Australia and Phong Nguyen, President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia, who was recently appointed by our government as a People of Australia Ambassador for organising such a great community event.