It\’s been suggested the federal government is considering increasing the single aged pension by only $20 a week so it can also boost unemployment benefits.


But Mr Swan wouldn\’t comment, except to say Labor would “deal with” the pension increase in a financially responsible way.

“We\’ve recognised there is a problem with the base rate of pension,” the treasurer told Network Ten from Washington.

“We have said that we will deal with it in this budget and deal with it we will.

“And we\’ll do it in a financially responsible way.”

Mr Swan said over and above those comments he wouldn\’t respond to budget speculation “on a daily basis”.

Hitting high-income earners

Last week, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd hinted the government could target high-income earners as a way of funding a pension increase in the May budget.

The Newstart payment for unemployed singles is $453.30 a fortnight, while the single aged pension is $569.80.

Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese said the government was committed to long-term pension reform.

“In terms of the unemployed, one of the reasons why we have been taking the economic stimulus measures that we have, in both nation building infrastructure and one-off payments, is to cushion the economy against the impact of the global recession and try to limit the impact on employment that the global recession will have,” he told the Nine Network.

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull said the opposition will continue to argue that the pension should be increased.

“We have argued for some time very strongly that the singled aged pension should be increased to two thirds the level of a couple rate,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.