• Robyn McDonald
Senior Citizens

The Minister for Senior Citizens, Hon Robyn McDonald, said today that the Coalition Government's Budget was good news for senior citizens.

"The removal of the surcharge was a major commitment by NZ First, and we have delivered that promise in the Budget," said Robyn McDonald.

"The superannuation surcharge goes from 1 April 1998. That policy was ageist and penalised older people. I am delighted that we have been able to help senior citizens in this way.

"I am also very pleased that we have been able to announce the removal of income and asset testing for senior citizens in long-stay public hospital care, and the removal of asset testing for long-stay private hospital care. Both will take effect from 1 October 1998," the Minister said.

"The extra spending over the next three years, to deal with the waiting list backlogs nationwide in the health area will also be positive for older New Zealanders. I know this is a major concern for our senior citizens and is raised with me regularly and I believe the extra funding will ease those concerns.

"The removal of outpatient and daypatient user part charges for services will be a considerable saving for older people who do not hold a community service card.

"More police on our streets means safer communities for senior citizens and will provide reassurance. The extra 200 police will go a long way to helping older people feel safer," Robyn McDonald said.

"In addition, I am very pleased that we are able to ensure that Age Concern's elder abuse and neglect programmes can continue with Coalition Government funding. These programmes are an excellent prevention measure to elder abuse and neglect.

"I believe by continuing these programmes, we can go a long way to raising the awareness within our communities that such abuse and neglect does occur and that help is available.

"Overall, the Coalition Government's first Budget with its extra social spending, will help our senior citizens and I intend to continue to build on this good news to help older New Zealanders.

"We are making the difference through our social policies, and I welcome the progress we will make over the next three years in helping New Zealanders," said Robyn McDonald.