Real change, not small change

Would you preference a political party that prioritises pension increases?

An overwhelming 94 per cent of YourLifeChoices Age Pension Poll respondents say that’s a real possibility.

On 20 March 2019, the Age Pension will increase by $9.90 per fortnight for singles and $7.40 per person for couples. Again, it is no more than a cup of coffee or a loaf of bread each week, but it is still an increase – of sorts.

But not enough to keep up with the cost of living, say 63 per cent of respondents.

The Age Pension base rate has not increased since 2008, and 92 per cent of survey respondents say it’s time to lift it.

When asked by how much, 45 per cent said $100 per fortnight would suffice, 33 per cent say $160 is required and 19 per cent say $60 a fortnight would be sufficient. Only three per cent think the current rate is appropriate

YourLifeChoices members shared their opinions on the Age Pension.

“The Age Pension should be a percentage of federal politicians’ base rates. When they get a pay rise, so do pensioners. Until you have set parameters, this will be an ongoing problem, so cut the ‘BS’ and fix it with one stroke/legislation. Who wants the pensioner vote at the next election?” wrote YourLifeChoices members Chris T.

Others think pensioners are already doing fine.

“Yes, give the greedy leaners more, while they cheer the theft from the battling self-funded,” wrote OlderandWiser.

Others disagree with this sentiment.

“Leaners is a derogatory term and should not be used,” wrote Paddington.

Some said there is a bigger picture to consider.

“Given the slow growth in wages, housing price crash, and Labor’s decision to take money away from low-income single-family residents, there should be a freeze on pension increases, until the economy and everyone else is collectively better off. We simply cannot afford a pension increase at this time,” wrote Lothario.

While some may view pensioners as “greedy leaners”, many pensioners – such as YourLifeChoices member Eggles01 – are in the pre-compulsory super generation and rely on the Age Pension to survive.

“I am now 76 years old. When I started work in 1958, there was no such thing as superannuation. To make it worse in my case I was put on a disability pension in 1991 at the age of 49. I was classified as ‘unemployable’ due to my injuries while I was working – wait for it – by the visiting Government doctor who placed me the disabled pension. I had the injuries in 1982, so I ask you how well you would cope under those circumstances?”

These are the people who need real change – not just small change.

Many age pensioners are heading into winter knowing that half the time they will have to choose between eating and turning on their heaters. These are the pensioners who need help.

Pension poverty is real. It’s time politicians realised this and did something about it.

“The real leaners are the retiring MPs collecting money left, right and centre. Even though they have millions and a lot of property they are not asset-tested and often get another job after retiring, but still get a government pension. Why not spend your time attacking them instead of the pensioners who are struggling? Not all are leaners,” wrote musicveg.

When it comes to alternatives to raising the base rate, OlderandWiser may actually be onto something.

“The only solution is to abolish the assets test and test income and deemed income. Why should someone who settles for a lower value home be punished and deprived while someone who sinks a million into a house get a nice pension and concessions?” wrote OlderandWiser.

“Abolish the assets test and test income and deemed income only. That removes the incentive to over-invest in the family home and ends the unfairness to those who can’t generate good investment returns.” .

Do you think the Age Pension should become an election issue? Do you have an idea to solve pension poverty? Take part in our Age Pension Poll and share your opinions in the comment section below.

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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RELATED LINKS

Age Pension update: increases and changes from 20 March 2019

Changes to the Age Pension that will come into effect on 20 March 2019.

Changes to Newstart rates and thresholds

From 20 March 2019, Newstart rates and thresholds will be indexed.

Rent assistance rates payable from 20 March 2019

The new payment rates and limits for rent assistance.



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