Giving cash to those who have fewest resources usually does ensure it is spent. Doing so just before Xmas should be a guarantee of spending but Santa Kevin managed to miss out some of the most needy and give unnecessary money to some people one could call a tetch greedy. The payments leave out those categories of income support recipients who are most in need of extra money.

A single Newstart recipient gets only $219 a week, well below the widely excoriated figure of $273 for single pensioners. And some independent Youth Allowance recipients on less than $175 pw will also miss out. Sole parents may also lose as they will get a payment per child but not for themselves, so those with one child end up with $400 dollars less than a single pensioner.

It seems as though the politically unpopular income recipients get less than justice, although most in need. At the other end, however, there are generous payments to a noisy but not needy lot, the so-called self funded retirees who receive the Commonwealth seniors heath card. There are 320,000 Senior Health Care Card holders who are eligible for the bonus of $1,400 single or $2,100 a couple. Singles, for examples may earn between $40,500 and $49,999 pa, or have equivalent capital funds, about four times the income of single unemployed people on less than $11,500 pa.

Why be so generous with these relatively well off groups? Is this another Howard type down payment on future voters? Many of these have had quite generous tax concessions, so self funding is not always an accurate description, and even if they lose some capital in the market failures, they can get picked up by the pension system at relatively generous levels.

For instance, many aged pensioner couples on not much less than $2,600 per fortnight super income, paying concessional tax or none, who will also be paid the $2,100 bonus, as will equivalent singles on $1,555 two week incomes.

And the payment is also all tax free!

All these affluent groups may not spend their payment at all, and therefore fail to do their public duty to increase demand.

These payment anomalies should give all those getting the payments in higher income brackets, a brief moment of reflection on whether they should donate it to someone on unemployment benefit, or youth allowance, as charity would seem to be the only option for the less popular poor. And that’s not very likely because they lack public appeal!

Peter Fray

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