The State Government is being warned not to raise rents for pensioners living in public housing, when the Gillard Government increases pensions in May and June this year.
The Federal Member for Maribyrnong, Bill Shorten, said the Federal Government was watching closely to see if the State would try to redirect the upcoming pension increase into its own coffers.
“I share the concerns of a number of public housing tenants that Ted Baillieu will use the Labor Government’s upcoming pension boost as another excuse to increase rents for local pensioners,” Mr Shorten said.
“In 2009 Labor delivered the biggest increase to the pension in 100 years and we secured agreement from the State Government to not hike rents as a result.
“However, when Ted Ballieu won office he squibbed on the agreement and raised rents for some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
Over May and June, almost 22,000 pensioners in Maribyrnong will receive a tax-free, lump-sum payment of up to $250, before receiving an increase to their fortnightly pension in March next year.
The total increase amounts to $338 a year for single pensioners and $510 a year for pensioner couples combined. The payments will be identified as a separate pension supplement, making it simple for the Victorian Government to exclude it from their rent calculations.
Any rent rise would directly affect over 680 public housing tenants in Maribyrnong, and over 5,200 in the neighbouring electorate of Melbourne.
One of Mr Shorten’s constituents, Val Mullally, first raised the issue with him earlier this year, and said the possibility of a rent rise was extremely worrying for her.
“Last time this happened, Mr Ballieu tooked $19.50 in extra rent from the $30 pension increase. That money was meant to get us through the bad times,” Miss Mullally said.
“He should leave the bloody pensioners alone.”
Mr Shorten said he would be writing to the State Housing Minister, Wendy Lovell, about the issue.
“This money is for my local pensioners. It’s not for Ted Baillieu.”
Suburbs in the Maribyrnong electorate include: Aberfeldie, Airport West, Albion, Avondale Heights, Brooklyn (part), Essendon, Essendon North, Essendon West, Kealba, Keilor East, Keilor Park, Maribyrnong (part), Moonee Ponds, Niddrie, St Albans (part), Sunshine, Sunshine North and Tullamarine (part).