Fact sheet

Fact Check: Did Nick Xenophon vote with Malcolm Turnbull to cut the age pension?

Age pension Independent politicians Trade unions

The body representing South Australia's unions, SA Unions, took aim at former senator Nick Xenophon's voting record in Federal Parliament ahead of the 2018 state election, claiming he voted with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to cut pensions for older South Australians. This claim is overblown. Only two legislative changes affecting age pension payments have taken effect since Mr Turnbull became Prime Minister. The first of these capped the amount of income from defined benefit schemes that seniors are able to exclude from the pension's income test. However, there is no record of Mr Xenophon having voted for the measure. He did vote for changes to the age pension assets test, which took effect on January 1, 2017. These amendments raised the "free area" threshold, below which a person's assets do not affect how much pension they receive. But they also doubled the rate at which payments are reduced for every $1,000 of assets above the threshold. Three experts told Fact Check the results of the changes were mixed: some people with fewer assets will have had their pension increased, while relatively wealthy people with greater assets will have had their payments reduced or cut entirely.
Verdict: Overblown

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