How changes to Age Pension portability will affect real Aussies

The changes to Age Pension portability will have an affect on real Aussies. Frank is one of them.

old man looking out at the sea

On 1 February this year, comments made in Debbie’s Age Pension portability under threat article struck a nerve with Frank, who is one of our members. So, we asked him if he would allow us to publish what he had say on the matter.

The following are the comments to which Frank is referring:

While reducing the time a person can be absent from Australia from 26 weeks to six weeks seems extreme, it’s worth remembering that the payment being made is an Australian Age Pension. It’s not a payment meant to fund lifestyles overseas or extended travel, but rather support those who do not have the savings to fund their own retirement.

Dear Ms McTaggart

I was extremely upset to read your reported comments, I have included [above], following the Lower House consideration of the portability provisions relating to the Age Pension.

In my case, I came to Thailand in 2005 to do voluntary teaching for underprivileged young people, after my wife refused to move into an apartment where we could better manage our retirement years together. She then sought a separation through Centrelink to get her a single-rate pension. I told Centrelink that I disagreed we had separated in the legal sense and her application was declined.

Subsequently, she again went to Centrelink citing there was no chance of a reconciliation and her application was granted.

Since 2005, I have returned to Australia within the 26 weeks to ensure my pension was maintained, but could only stay for a day or so because, given the airfare from Thailand, it was too expensive to stay longer.

Centrelink subsequently deemed me to be a non-resident because of my short stays in Australia. The fact that my wife and I had separated, I had no job or savings other than my pension and no family in Australia, despite my daughter and grandson living in Canberra made no difference.

I should perhaps add that my son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren returned to live in Australia this month, but their return is deemed by Centrelink to not be adequate enough to have my non-residency status overturned.

If the proposed portability provisions are approved by the Upper House and become law, then it will be impossible for me to return to Australia every six weeks, and my single-rate Age Pension entitlement will be automatically cut by one-third or more per month. If that occurs, I will not have the financial means to support myself.

Several times I have sought advice about returning to Australia to live, but told there would be too long a waiting list for state subsidised housing – citing 10 years in Western Australia – and applications could not be made until one returns. I have no home in which to stay and neither could I pay (from my pension) to rent a place.

I have less than 35 years’ working-life residence in Australia, so even if I could manage to return, my pension would still be cut because of the proposed pension changes currently under consideration.

It is grossly unfair of you to imply that (in my case) the Age Pension is not a payment meant to fund lifestyles overseas or extended travel, but it is true that my pension is supporting me because I do not have any savings to fund my retirement.

I would request, Ms McTaggart, before making any more statements, such as you made, that you give more thought to the implications of the proposed pension cuts as a consequence to the review of portability provisions for overseas Australians who might very well be in the same position as that I find myself, at nearly 78 years of age, and through no fault of their own.



Do you agree with Frank? Do you have any advice you can share with him and our members?


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    11th Mar 2016
    Frank's situation highlights the problems created when politicians change rules without any real understanding of the implications, but based on assumptions. I have seen many instances of this. The recent taper rate change was a classic. Many affected retirees have ''assets'' that are valued by Centrelink at high values but actually are neither saleable nor returning income. Others have assets that yield very low returns. Changing the taper rate grinds these people into poverty, forcing them to spend their capital and potentially leaving them with inadequate capital to meet needs they anticipated would present in later life. Having saved for these contingencies, or to ensure a given living standard at a particular point in their old age, they are now stripped of their savings and their plans are wiped out.

    I sympathize with Frank in his plight, and I'm sure he's far from alone. Politicians just don't care. That's the bottom line. They don't give a damn. They make laws based on assumptions and generalizations, and when alerted to individual cases where the law discriminates unfairly and causes hardship, they sigh and claim they can't cater to every situation.

    Frank should visit a federal MP (preferably LNP) in the area where he lived prior to leaving Australia, or in the area his wife lives and ask for help. Hopefully, they can do something for him.
    16th Mar 2016
    Politicians change the rules to make sure their own pensions will be safe. Their mentality is less for them is more for us.
    11th Mar 2016
    I thank Rainey for the support and advice.
    I should stress that I was teaching in Thailand unpaid since I would have needed a work permit to have received remuneration. It was always my aim to do voluntary work and I had informed Centrelink that the Australian Government even advised retirees to do similar work.
    I did take up my case many times with Centrelink but got nowhere, even after seeking assistance regarding how I might return home and qualify for state housing assistance. I also wrote to the Minister and received very much the same reply as Rainey pointed out in his penultimate paragraph,
    Returning home every five to six months with a tiny piece of luggage also seemed to alert the airport immigration and customs officials that my entry, citing a one or two day stay was suspicious, and in many instances I was taken aside, my small bag searched and even my passport was taken away and a copy made. The worst instances of this kind of treatment occurred particularly in Cairns and Darwin airports.
    Now I can check myself in by using the new self-service immigration check in but even this seems to invite unwanted attention when I arrive with my shaving kit, toothbrush and a change of clothes for the flight the next day.
    In Darwin Airport I was accosted by an Immigration Officer while sitting in the departure lounge and asked to explain, in front of other departing passengers, why I was leaving when it had been noticed I had arrived the day before.
    As a former police officer given up his retirement years to voluntary service to others, I find the treatment I have constantly received on returning home degrading and humiliating, to say nothing about what the government's proposed portability changes will do to reduce me to poverty.
    16th Mar 2016
    As a retired police officer, you should have alternative income strand not affected by pension per se, Frank.

    I applaud your desire to do voluntary work - I have similar plans myself, though these, due to often government policies, have been delayed.

    Perhaps there is room for exemptions anyway - though I cannot accept the principle that government may take away your pension at all for not living here - for those who do voluntary work. Perhaps a little extra stipend under Aid budget or something? Just thinking.
    18th Mar 2016
    Frank. I may also move overseas in retirement. Maybe you could enlighten me on a few issues.

    1. The Age pension is taxable
    2. You have lived overseas for some time, so are you classed as non-resident?
    3. If so there is no tax-free threshold for non-residents.
    4. Does Centrelink deduct a tax component from your pension?
    5. If is it necessary to file a tax return in Australia.
    6. And in your adopted Country do you have to declare your Australian pension as income to the tax authorities there.

    14th Mar 2016
    Yes the recent taper changes and changes to the assets tests meant that people such as myself who worked and saved all their lives ( my wife and I also raised 4 children) now have their retirement plans smashed by Hockey, who incidently rorted several multiples of $288 a night travel allowance, is currently on a tax free pension of over $350000 a year plus his salary for being a diplomat in the US. Will Hockey's tax free pension be affected by the 6 week rule. Also Bronwyn Bishop is still continuing her snout in trough spending. At a recent Seniors meeting in Newcastle, it was estimated that a possible 560000 retirees would be affected by Hockey's asset changes, and possibly would never vote for those blasted Liberals ever again.
    But I don't want to vote for the Greens. I don't like Labour. And I vowed I would never ever vote for those Lying, Cheating Rorting Theiving Liberals ever again But who is left for me to vote for?
    14th Mar 2016
    Mike, I feel the same way you do about the various political parties, but I think ultimately voting Labor next election may be the only way to get rid of the LNP. Splitting the vote will give the LNP a victory, sadly. I don't like Labor, and I think once they are in power again we have to look carefully at options for keeping them honest and ultimately breaking the two-party system, but our first priority must be to oust the LNP, otherwise there is going to be a great deal more suffering and gross unfairness in this country.
    Waiting to retire at 70
    15th Mar 2016
    Yes today voting is not "who would be best for the country" but rather who is likely to do the least damage.

    EVERY single politician today is about their own manic determination to achieve power. Then like the Rudds and Abbotts of this world, to do anything to hang on to it. Even Nick Xenophan has revealed his true colours by throwing his support behind the libs. Not to mention the "fifth Wiggle" now leading the greens spending his time doing preference swaps with the LIBs. That's clearly more important than anything else for him.

    But particular mention must be made of 'smokin' Joe. He not only, as you say, rorted the system by paying his wife the $288 a night Canberra living allowance to fund her negatively geared investment property, but he upped the retirement age so everyone has to work until their organs can be harvested.

    A 'plague house their houses'. Give me a 2nd hand car salesman in white shoes any day!
    16th Mar 2016
    WTRA70 - you got it right....... 100%.
    14th Mar 2016
    Im a bit confused by Franks situation as he states it. Number one if he was outside Australia on July one of 2014 then the bew rule applying to 35 years residecy doesnot apply to him having to return at all. He needs to find out about that. His wife winning the separation fight was a win for him as he gets the single person rate. As to losing his residency all that basically does is cut off his medicare which reinstates if he enters Australua. What concerns does he individually really have?
    14th Mar 2016
    A new party is starting up called the Australian Liberty Alliance maybe contact them and ask about their policies....They are anti Muslim migration and looking at the whole process..
    I am the other way I can't get my fiancee here as migration deem she won't return to her home country after her 3 mths visa expires even though she will only have a passport as ID and therefore can;t get a job,open any account etc,,,,so we are now looking at moving to Thailand
    14th Mar 2016
    ALA is weak on the policies regarding pensioners and will not threaten at the next election with very few members and unspecified policies on most important issues. Regrettably, as we need options in this Country
    14th Mar 2016
    Hello Glen, we have no official position on this proposed change.

    My personal view is that it should make no difference where an old age
    pensioner is located.
    Given the cost of living in Australia, it can make good sense to live
    somewhere where this cost is lower.

    However, it also raises some questions:

    Given the fact that our old age pension is means-tested, overseas residency
    can make it impossible to
    verify the means a pensioner has at his disposal. Someone may operate a
    thriving hotel and restaurant with his younger wife
    and family in Thailand, but still receive the tax-payer funded pension.

    Also, should this apply to Australian citizens only, or also to dual
    nationals and former permanent residents, who are now back
    in the old country and are being cared for by their family?

    thought needs to go into this before we take a formal position.

    Best Regards

    Ralf P. Schumann
    Party Secretary

    Australian Liberty Alliance Ltd
    PO Box 290 | South Melbourne | Victoria 3205
    Phone 1300 18 88 69 | Facsimile 03 9012 4549 | ABN 986 019 780 63
    Waiting to retire at 70
    15th Mar 2016
    Glen48, presume you've got charitable status. So we fund you too?

    What's the "48" represent? The IQ required to join your fellow bigots?
    14th Mar 2016
    I think the situation needs to be more clearly explained, I am in a similar position as Frank and Ms McTaggarts assumption that we are living the Life of Riley overseas is wrong, the governments constant changing the criteria once the pension was awarded to us is cruel, we have retired made lifestyle changes, one of which is living overseas with family, as in my case as with Frank I can't afford to live in Australia. I have already had my pension cut as I was out of the country for more than 26 weeks, and accept that, I also don't have Medicare as I would have to return to Australia for more than 6 months, I accept that, but now I am not sure what they will do, it is stress older Australians don't need.
    14th Mar 2016
    Frank's situation involving his original decision to move overseas to help the under privileged reminds me of the saying "No good deed shall go unpunished."
    Frank's situation is anther example of the inflexible attitude and approach "our" bureaucrats take in applying arbitrary rules while sitting in judgement over us mere mortals, whether retired or not.

    I can only hope that Frank finds his living circumstances to be more to his liking compared to what he would find in Australia.
    14th Mar 2016
    firstly Frank you have my sympathy in this situation however I do believe the Australian pension should only be paid to people permanently residing in's a safety net not a privilege. it is a sad situation you give up your time to help others in another country but remember the old adage charity begins at home. good luck in the future Jacka.
    14th Mar 2016
    The age pension is support ALL retirees. It is not for others to judge where one wants to spend his last years.
    Your statement is petty to the extreme.
    14th Mar 2016
    Jacka. Two pensions were legislated in around 1909 (Dont quote me precisley as all my details are at home). They were for aged people and invalids. Some time well after, the legislation was amended to incorporate cpi increases. During the drafting of that legislation it was determined that 1.5% would be set aside for those pensions. During that period no one had a scheme in place to top up. It was not until about 25 years ago that the employer based superannuation scheme came in. By then most of the current retirees had gone past their halfway working life. The only asset they had was their homes. Now, under the current system even that has been eroded or basically taken away. It's not even a safety net. For those who commenced their working life when the employer based scheme came in they will have their future secured. Or will they? Those wonderful politicians are now attacking that. In simple terms the pension was never meant to be a safety ne. It was meant to provide
    16th Mar 2016
    Why do they have to live here, Jacka? They earned that pension as much as the name you take did..... why then are there restrictions made on how they should spend it?

    That is not done to anyone who earns a living here... whether it be a company or an individual. Any such can live overseas without penalty.... or travel overseas unto infinity without penalty.

    Does a worker who takes an extended offshore holiday for twelve months suffer any loss of right to the benefit from which he/she is living? Does any company taking cash offshore suffer for doing so?

    We pensioners are free to do as we wish with our earned income in retirement... superannuants suffer no such restrictions, companies suffer no such restrictions.... politicians suffer no such restrictions... why then should those who supported and sustained and promoted those take a lesser deal?

    Because they are second class citizens, or third class citizens, or fourth class citizens?
    16th Mar 2016
    I believe my last statement is the nub of this matter..... at what point does a citizen who has endured the 'recession we had to have', the evils and vicissitudes of 'politically correctness', promotion of 'minorities' disadvantaged in the past to the exclusion of the majority, 'workchoices' meaning you have none, and piss-poor industrial relations, tyranny of ideologically driven parties that have ruled this country for decades, and every 'modern' idea of 'equality' that any ideologue can find on a near daily basis..... actually get to take a fair go?

    Or are the 'dregs' left over from every politically correct movement in this poor benighted country headed for devastation - those citizens who never got the benefit of all the fat and suffered all of the lean.... to be considered as just garbage to be cast off at whim?

    I say NO!

    BOTR! Let the people decide for themselves.
    14th Mar 2016
    Politicians just don't get it! Living as a single person, not owning a home, is impossible in Australia on the Government Pension. However it is possible to live in some Asian countries with some degree of comfort.

    So what does government do? Reduce the pension for those living overseas so that they now cannot afford to live in Australia or anywhere else! Great move!
    16th Mar 2016
    Thieves in Armani all of them, Ronin. Gangsters of the same ilk as the Chinese New Emperor class.. great socialists all.. who happen to benefit to BILLIONS from the work of their fellow socialists.
    14th Mar 2016
    Read this to where so much of OUR taxes goes!!!!!!!

    1% Rule Foreign Aid
    Subject: Fw: Fwd: 1% Rule Foreign Aid
    I used to agree strongly with our giving foreign aid. But we've been doing it my entire life & it hasn't changed anything. Plus most of these countries hate us & would happily see us dead!

    The 1% Rule
    Someone please tell me what the Hell is wrong with all the people that run this country!!!

    We're "broke" and can't help our own
    In the last years we have provided direct cash aid to...
    Congo - 359 M
    Egypt - 397 M
    Ethiopia - 981 M
    Haiti - 1.4 B
    Hamas - 351 M
    Iraq - 1.08 B
    Jordan - 463 M
    Kazakhstan - 304 M
    Kenya - 816 M
    Libya 1.45 B
    Mexico - 622 M
    Mozambique - 404 M
    Nigeria - 456 M
    Pakistan - 2 B
    Russia - 380 M
    Senegal - 698 M
    South Africa - 566 M
    Sudan - 870 M
    Tanzania - 554 M
    Uganda - 451 M
    Zambia - 331 M,
    Indonesia – The mind boggles as to how much they get (they got $650m in
    And with literally Billions of Dollars and they still hate us!!!

    Our retired seniors are living on a 'fixed income'
    Do they get any breaks while our government and religious organisations pour Hundreds of Billions of $$$$$$'s and Tons of Food to Foreign Countries!

    We have hundreds of adoptable children who are shoved aside to make room for the adoption of foreign orphans
    A country where we have
    homeless without shelter, children going to bed hungry, elderly going without needed medication and mentally ill without treatment... etc.

    We still allow illegal "Boat People" & other free loaders on our shores While we are lining up with food, clothes, bedding, doctors and medical supplies.

    Imagine if the "GOVERNMENT"
    gave 'US' the same support they give to other countries.

    Sad isn't it?
    14th Mar 2016
    It is more than sad Neil.
    It is scandalous, so can you please publish the source of your info so I can write to my MP and ask what can be done about it and the money saved used to help our own needy.
    I would encourage all other followers of this blog to do the same.
    Thank you
    14th Mar 2016
    This is why we are borrowing 110M a day
    16th Mar 2016
    This is outrageous. Please provide the link, it needs to be spread around.
    14th Mar 2016
    Two things. Firstly, don't blame the bureaucrats for these decisions. It is members of the Government who have made these rules and the bureaucrats have no option but to Police them if they want to retain their job.

    Secondly, I can recall when the assets and income test came into existence many long years ago that the Government of the day said quite plainly, without any ambiguity that "the privilege of receiving the pension will always continue for those that satisfy the test". Seems to me that in the dead of a dark stormy night, the Government removed the goal posts from the field.
    16th Mar 2016
    'privilege' of receiving a bought and paid for right?

    Well - there's a fine piece of spin....
    16th Mar 2016
    there is no bought and paid for right. The age of entitlement is long over
    14th Mar 2016
    I certainly do agree with Frank that Centrelink and the Government have treated him harshly. I am amazed at how incompetent they are, and seniors should take to the streets to protest against this treatment. Unfortunately, most seniors are too conservative to do so. I suggest that they all read Greg Combet's book "The fights of my life". After they read the book, it may help them to develop spines and agitate to throw this crooked Government out! And we laugh at Americans and Donald Trump! Wake up, Australians!
    14th Mar 2016
    totally agree
    14th Mar 2016
    This is a sad situation Frank finds himself in. He has managed his times back in Australia and a one day stay is hardly enough to convince Government h estill has genuine ties in Australia.
    However, he is a victim of retrospective legislation that was initially introduced to stop the thousands of ethnic immigrants, who came here, stayed for a short time, then claimed the pension and returned to their home countries - this does not apply to Frank from the information he has supplied. Sorry to tell you but he will get no joy from local MPs, they are not interested.
    there are ways he can stay longer in Australia for longer periods if he really wanted to.
    But at his age, it may be difficut as I do not know what his health situation is.
    I suggest he joins a forum Google DSP Australia, also has great information for Aged Pensioners.
    He can lodge an appeal against the Centrelink decision to declare him a non-resident and can handle it himself at no cost,but he will need to be in Australia to do that.
    Good luck Frank.
    14th Mar 2016
    My old house has gone on the market for 1m sadly my ex took off yrs ago and left me paying child support etc and she wanted the house now thanks to Feds policies the taxpayers are paying my pension....had I been able to have a say in what went on we both could have got out in the future with some thing.
    14th Mar 2016
    So you had to pay child support for your children? How awful! Sorry, no sympathy on that one Glen48.
    14th Mar 2016
    Kids I have not seen for 8 yrs,,The trouble is with CSA I had a rental which I was paying CSA on ex started business against and took my customer and I was paying her CSA,,,CSA is ok except the harder you work to get ahead the more you pay..bit hard at 55 to make a come back,

    14th Mar 2016
    I"m afraid if you can only live on the pension you are always going to have Government adjustments made and they cannot cover every different situation and always some will miss out.
    I cannot work out why a person such as Frank can work for 35 years and have no savings even if his wife took him to the cleaners he should still have something .
    Was he a spendthrift or lived a lavish lifestyle and where did the money earned go?
    16th Mar 2016
    That's why the Pension is sacrosanct.. because according to the way the revenue is gathered into 'consolidated revenue' in order to pay the government's bills - that pension is bought and paid for.

    I cannot say the same for politician's retirements funding.... they didn't pay for the majority of that at all...

    Truth sucks, neh?
    14th Mar 2016
    I'm now TOTALLY confused. My understanding is that if you reside in Australia for the 2 years prior to your pensionable age and qualify for the Age Pension then you can take it anywhere, including non-reciprocal countries. Is this no longer the case?
    15th Mar 2016
    Not sure about that! I hope that is the case as I will pulling up stakes shortly.
    15th Mar 2016
    Outcast. Please see my post about age portability. It might clarify things a bit.

    P.S. I am now not sure whether Age Pension portability rules (i.e. decreases to the pension for certain pensioners after 26 weeks, or six weeks if the legislation goes through) also apply if you go to live in countries with which Australia DOES have a social security agreement. Can someone enlighten me please.
    14th Mar 2016
    I have great problems getting my head around any of this, Frank; reason being, we have so many laws effecting these people and those people, and then the laws that solely apply to thieving politicians who believe that they are the new Robin Hoods in revers "Take from the poor and give to the rich (MP's)".

    When writing to a politician over pension problems, I never put 'Hon.' in regard to title, once asked by the politician why, I said that there are no Honorable politicians in Australia neither State nor Federal, to which this politician asked me, "How soon can you die?", and I kid you not! They think they are above the rest of us, and in regard to you Frank, I feel for you as many pollies do live outside Australia semi-permanently, on their pensions, no questions asked; again, rules for them and rules for the rest! Ultimately, pollies are worse than criminals we have in jail, but they can get away with it because we let them with no questions asked, it is after all, our own fault and doing!

    I could go on about what I know about pollies, but this is about Frank, helping the lowly at a cost, Frank should maintain his pension status as long as he proves he is helping the less fortunate, no matter where he may be doing that; if pollies helped other less fortunate as much as they help themselves form the public purse, Australia would be a much greater country!

    Frank, I hope all goes well for you and your desire to help others less fortunate.
    14th Mar 2016
    Greatgolly. If this politician actually made those comments may I strongly recommend that you go to the police ASAP. If you didnt get his meaning at what he was implying it is simple. You were being threatened. Unless we are missing other details that you haven t provided the forum. I agree with your comments
    16th Mar 2016
    I spoke with a so-called student 'communist' once, many years ago when I was a junior Army officer.... he said that come the revolution I would be amongst the first to go... I said the effect of "bring it on then!"

    These people are determined that the 'traitors to the cause' will be banished or exterminated.... and have no idea of what their true political adherence is... one of total control and ability to dispose, in the pattern of Pol Pot etc, of any 'enemies of the State' - that state being what they choose to consider it as without any reference to reality.

    One day you will all get there... or your children or grand-children will... and then there will be a mighty revolution... once they have seen enough and had enough.

    In the meantime I can only guide you... must be a Messianic Complex... (desperate need of emoticons here)...

    14th Mar 2016
    Frank, I don't know you so I can't predict whether you would be able to handle the pressure of doing this, but if I were in your shoes I'd be taking the issue to the media. Try contacting Today Tonight, 7:30 Report, etc. Firstly, they will research to get to the absolute conclusive truth of the matter and find any available work-arounds that might exist. Secondly, they will put the Government on the spot and force them to answer some tough questions, exposing their cruelty and unfairness to the whole nation if they continue to ignore your moral rights. It's worth a try.
    14th Mar 2016
    Hi Frank. I am in a similar position re cutting of my pension to a married man. My question to Centrelink is simple. We cannot be permanent residents in Thailand so, if we are not residents of Thailand, and we are not residents of Australia (Even though we hold an Australian passport) then who are we residents of? Has Centrelink recently been given legislative Attorney General powers or are they in a state of delusion grandeur of power. Suggest you refer to our Australian embassy and the Australian Attorney General's department to see how Centrelink fit in to THEIR legislated powers.
    16th Mar 2016
    Great point, Johnno......

    Left hand.. right hand.. left hand and right hand always win depending on who controls them... and never the twain shall meet....

    Demand your rights as a citizen.... but you may have to fight for them....
    14th Mar 2016
    Whilst there seems to be support for Frank here I think people are getting side tracked by the claim he is teaching the 'less fortunate' without pay and that seems to be the crux of the support. Well there are those in Australia that could do with some of that teaching support. And further in a place like Thailand, there is always good money to be made from teaching which could also support the voluntary work and how exactly would Centrelink know particularly if he were to be paid in cash? Not that I condone fraudulent claims but the question stands.

    In fact Frank is no different to hundreds of others who choose to live overseas on a Government supplied age pension each of whom would claim to have a good reason for doing so. I fail to understand what makes Frank's story any different.
    16th Mar 2016
    How then does Our Lady In Malaysia teach Burmese refugee children for free with no government or Aid support?

    Why does it even matter where a pensioner chooses to live?.. I'm looking at a property in the hinterland of La Cote D'Azure.. maybe I can hob-nob with Bono and such......... quick trip to Monte Carlo for a dabble.....

    Why should I receive less pension when my running costs are higher? Eh? Eh?
    14th Mar 2016
    It is time that the pensions for the retired politicians - who own plenty of Houses and can take another Job and keeping their pension - will be cancelled, because they all are very rich. It would safe us Millions of Dollars for the real pensioners and homeless people
    14th Mar 2016
    Centerlink calculated this year (I am eligible at 65.5 years)that I already had more than 35 years working life time in Australia. They twice told me I did not need to spend 2 years actually living in Australia prior to applying for an aged pension, just needed to be in Australia when I apply. Is that correct or am I getting more BS and changing goalposts from Centerlink officers?
    I am so sorry for Frank and the way he has been treated. How anyone can afford to survive in Australia on an aged pension is beyond me. Unless pensioners and those who will become pensioners (everyone!) band together to gain some practical leverage in parliament then many of us will wind up on the streets with begging bowls while MP's and their rich mates laugh at our continuing apathy through the bars of their security gated communities. Australian inequality is a direct result of imported US style dog eat dog social policy from right wing think tanks with pensioners being their easiest targets. Our only hope is to vote as a block in the next election for candidates who will deliver, to those of us who need it, sufficient funds to live with dignity wherever we want. Failing that, MP's and their wealthy mates should beware of the increasingly disenfranchised Australian population - pensioners, unemployed, the working poor and squeezed middle class etc, who have little left to lose. History shows security guards and gated communities cant protect perpetrators of economic apartheid and legalised corruption forever. And yes, I would stand as a candidate if I still had funds and good health.
    14th Mar 2016
    You must be in Australia to apply for the pension prior to your retirement age. If you have been residing in another country the two year requirement to stay in Australia applies.
    big al
    14th Mar 2016
    I agree with Frank, 6 weeks is a down right insult, I retire next year, having worked 44 years as a carpenter in the building industry, needless to say I am worn out with health issues, I have been unemployed once in the recession we had to have. How dare these politicians determine, how, what and where we live after working all our life's, it made my blood boil, when Joe Hockey, took all his government pension and his new job in the U.S, WHERE ARE THERE ASSETT TESTS, not to mention Kevin 747, I am sure he needs it.

    I remember Bill Shorten comment, getting the pension is not a lottery win, I think I have well earned mine, I intended to live with my partner overseas, as there is no way a visa would be issued to live hear, and we just could not afford it.

    I think Ms Mc Taggart, should think before she wrights things, and look at peoples circumstances.
    14th Mar 2016
    Any payment collected from the Government comes with criteria that the recipient must comply with. Collect the dole and you must prove you are actively looking for work for example. If people collect the age pension from the Government there are also compliance criteria and unfortunate for some, residency, assets, other income etc are all part of the deal. If people don't want to answer to the Government they need to be self funding. Then and only then can you do with it what you will.
    16th Mar 2016
    Ah, yes, KSS - but on what criteria are those criteria imposed? Do they abide by the Rule of Law that all MUST be treated equally... do they abide by the Absolute Requirement of Natural Justice?

    I think not at this time..... or are the rules simply guidelines for politicians and their running dogs, to be adhered to when convenient or to be altered at whim, since they have the 'power'?

    How then equate the 'power' of democratically elected representatives to some form of Divine Right of Elected Government?

    At what point does despotism being, at what point must it intrude on duty to the populace, at what point does Absolutism of elected government become tyranny??

    I think most of us here know already... I am but the wordsmith who puts it in simple words.....

    NO Divine Right has ever survived the requirements of Democracy.... NOR of the properly administered Rule of Law.

    Thanks for coming....we don't tolerate Fascists here of any colour...
    16th Mar 2016
    "at what point does Despotism begin'.. damn you spell check.... **raises fist to the sky** ....

    14th Mar 2016
    By writing to Ms McTaggart over her personal views on the proposed changes to the portability rules pertaining to the payment of the aged pension and what I perceived to have been her lack of understanding of how the imposition of 6 weeks allowable absence from home, as opposed to the existing 26 weeks, would affect a majority of Australian retirees, I did not wish to become too personal in relating my circumstances.
    I have been encouraged by many of the comments already posted tending to lend support to my view that the portability changes, if adopted, will be unfair to a great majority of Australians and seen as discriminating against those who migrated to the country, became Australian citizens, worked hard, paid their taxes and feel it only fair to either spend their retirement income on family holidays for longer than 6 weeks or, if they wish to return to their originating country.
    Let me add some clarity to my personal circumstances because one or two of your correspondents have raised points that I believe could be covered with a few more details without wanting to become too personal.
    I migrated from the UK with my wife and three young children in 1980. At that time there was in place A Reciprocal Agreement between the UK and Australia on the payment of pension when one reached retirement age. The Agreement was scrapped by Australia because it was claimed the UK would not index pensions and Australia believed it unfair to have to meet the tabs. Fair enough.
    In 1997 I accepted a two year contract in a Pacific country and prior to leaving I put down a substantial deposit (off the plan) on a unit it was intended my wife and I would retire to on returning home at the end of the contract. The deposit consisted of my whole savings to date but I had assurances it was a wise investment. I remitted funds back to Australia during my contract and by the time I returned home in July 1999 the unit was fully paid for, furnished and ready to move into.
    My wife refused to move in saying she wanted a home and not a box as she put it. There is a saying that you cut your cloth according to your means and I felt the unit was ideal for our retirement years together, albeit it wasn't over large but adequate to our needs and a fine investment.
    I had to sell the place and find temporary accommodation while pondering what to do. I should add that by selling the unit I incurred substantial capital gains tax due to letting the place for a couple of months while renting.
    I decided to travel from Perth (where the unit was) to north Queensland where I learned of the potential of the Kuranda area. To cut a long story short, I made many trips there by air from WA and eventually found a 2 acre rainforest block which I bought and built a home that met my wife's requirements fully.
    It was a virgin block of land when I acquired it and so took out a mortgage to allow me to landscape the property. For the next few years I set about this work with a will and the therapy did me a world of good. The result was a lush tropical home amidst the beautiful trees on the outskirts of Kuranda.
    Once the home was completed and my activity lessened I set about to find some work I could do to keep myself busy and voluntary teaching came to mind.
    I asked Centrelink if there was anything one could do locally and I wrote to James Cook University if there was anything I might do to help foreign students. Neither Centrelink or the University answered my letters.
    I enquired about doing a TEFL course (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) but the cost of the courses were too high on my then pension (at the couple rate).
    It was suggested to me by a friend that I could do the TEFL course cheaper in Bangkok and there do some practical, unpaid teaching, while practicing my new skills.
    I went to Bangkok, passed the course easily and graduated with a TEFL (A Grade) Certificate. My practical teaching was conducted at the Goodwill Mission which was a charitable organization aiding young women and girls from underprivileged backgrounds and without work. I enjoyed the teaching experience and felt encouraged I was making a difference to the lives of the young people as I witnessed improvements in their English skills and in their morale and general confidence.
    I finished my basic training and flew back home to Kuranda where I explained to my wife how much I felt I had been making a useful contribution to my students but, at the same time, explaining that I felt we both needed to have the opportunity of travelling a little in our retirement, either together or individually.
    I said to my wife that moving into a new apartment then available in nearby Cairns would reduce the time needed to spend on the upkeep of our large property and to reap the benefit of the increase in value of our home, especially since it was considered a choice property at that time. I was also keen to try and recoup what I had to pay earlier on capital gains tax.
    My wife wouldn't budge on the idea of moving into an apartment as she had declined previously in WA.
    I really did feel the need to continue voluntary work and again sought local opportunities but without success. I decided to return to Thailand to aid the less fortunate but never intending to leave my wife or Australia permanently.
    Because I had migrated to Australia, as I have mentioned, I became subject to the then portability provisions contained in the Social Security Act and needed to return to Australia with 26 weeks absence.
    On my return to Thailand, as I previously made clear, my wife decided to ask Centrelink for single rate pension entitlements (which I understood) but it never occurred to me that she would go so far to seek a separation in terms of the Social Security Act and my reaction was we hadn't legally separated and I was merely overseas on a temporary basis and always having in mind my wife would ultimately see the practicality of moving into an apartment.
    I kept up the returns to Australia but had to travel to the nearest destinations because of the air fares and these included going to either Darwin or Perth. On arrival it was costly to stay in a hotel or motel and this meant just staying overnight or at the most two nights.
    In all this time away, I was still paying out the monthly mortgage on my Kuranda home and the quarterly rates. Although the mortgage was in joint names I never asked my wife to pay,
    There came the time, however, that my personal savings could not go on meeting the outgoings and after a final , negative appeal to my wife to move into an apartment, I said, with reluctance I would seek to sell the home.
    It was put on the market but at the time house prices were at an all time low and interest rates at the highest level in some 11 years.
    The house wouldn't sell at the price it had been assessed as attaining by the real estate agent I had appointed and consequently because of my need to comply with the 26 weeks return requirements I was in danger of the bank foreclosing on the then outstanding mortgage.
    My daughter, living in the ACT in a rental property, stepped up to request that I let her have the house if she paid out the mortgage and give me an extra sum to tied me over for 12 months. She wanted the added equity to get a place of her own and avoid my wife having to vacate the Kuranda property and find a rental.
    After much consultation with my lawyer and in full appraisal with Centrelink I agreed to my daughter acquiring the home and also to help my wife.
    I hope this lengthy and rather personal information will add to assure one or two of your more skeptical correspondents that never intended to live permanently outside my chosen home in Australia and that I had always saved my hard earned savings throughout my working life and provided for my wife and family.
    I might also add that the law is tightly controlled in Thailand and doing any work, teaching included, without a valid work permit, would bring about severe penalties.
    Centrelink. to be fair, supervise and enforce the provisions and regulations of the Social Security Act, as amended, and although I have not always met with the best of service, it is, as many of your contributors so far have said, it is the politicians who do not take into consideration the wider implications of their legislative proposals in terms of fairness and, I suspect, human rights needs of the elderly pensioners struggling to make ends meet.
    14th Mar 2016
    Frank, personal is right. You made decisions and made your choices as you wanted at the time. We can all look back and bemoan the what ifs. Still the fact remains you made your choices, not the Government or even your wife. It is not their fault if you now classify yourself as an 'elderly pensioner struggling to make ends meet'. Nor is yours a case of violation of any human right.
    16th Mar 2016
    You mean the government Frank supported for eons does not now consider Frank an "elderly pensioner struggling to make ends meet"?

    How so? What law did he break? At what point did he not pay his dues?

    Nah.. NAH.. a Pension is an unconstrained bought and paid for Right... not some political plaything to be adjusted to fit some mythical crisis engineered by the very persons Frank paid to ensure his retirement funding was an Entitlement.
    14th Mar 2016
    Thanks KSS. I appreciate your points of view.
    It would be interesting to know from others to this review, however, how fair, or otherwise, it is to have Centrelink rule that I am separated as this not a separation in the law pertaining to the Marriage Act but merely a statutory declaration made in terms of the social security provisions of the Australian Social Security Act, as amended?
    Equally, how fair is it to have been deemed non-resident by Centrelink on the basis of what is an arbitrary separation and stating my non-residences was made valid because I had no wife, no home, my stays in Australia have been limited since 2005 and I have no family ties to Australia. I can accept, fully, that the other criteria needed to assess residency cannot be met - having no savings or job in Australia.
    I have however, in terms of Marriage Act, a wife still, two children, a son and a daughter and three grandchildren residing in Australia.
    Thank you for taking the time to add your views to my post, albeit I retain my point of view.
    14th Mar 2016
    KSS A final point to you since you appear to have balanced opinions.
    Forgetting me and what you regard as having been my choices please let me ask you, for the benefit of readers of this comments page.
    Do you think the 6 weeks portability change, if adopted, is fair to retired Australian pensioners subject to portability rules? If so why? If not why not?
    Should the government not compromise and bring in a 12 weeks absence provision instead of 6 weeks? It seems that some pensioners would think this to be fairer.
    16th Mar 2016
    As a scion of the Ancient Irish High Kings with blood ties to every Royal Family in Europe ... I would expect that the partying would exceed the six week limit.... Guinness does that to you...

    Ahhh... The Guinness Now!

    So am I to suffer for being descended from Ancient Royalty? How many people would that affect?

    Demme, Sir... that means WAR!
    14th Mar 2016
    Personal choices to remain in Thailand where the cost of living has been very cheap. Has gifted away property value. I personally know a number of age pensioners who rent in Australia and continue to visit Thailand two or three times a year.

    Frank you gave your life away to be in Thailand and you gave away your marriage and property. I do not believe the full story is being portrayed
    16th Mar 2016
    Frank has an unmitigated right to a pension.. he paid for it.

    Thanks for coming. I couldn't care less if he picks up a copper's pension as well.. that's his business... not the business of the government.
    14th Mar 2016
    Wow Frank's situation should be considered very carefully before these idiotic politicians/bureauRATS make any wild assumptions but their own! One rule for the rich, other for the poor is certainly widening. They are NOT LIVING IN THE REAL WORLD and hide behind their doors not caring what is going on right under their stuffed up noses! I sincerely hope Frank's plight will shine a light at the end of the tunnel. Good luck.
    14th Mar 2016
    What mathematical formula says that people who have worked and contributed in Australia for up to thirty five years should lose their pension if away for more than six weeks while people who have worked for thirty six years can stay away as long as they like?
    This change can only be described as an exercise in extreme pettiness. It will not save any money as pensioners like Frank will have to stay in Australia and live in poverty. Rules should not be changed and changed again so that people who have made decisions under existing rules are left with nowhere to go. Life often does not work out as we plan or expect it to but at least people should be able to rely on the consistency of Government regulations.
    It seems we now need to add ‘For the term of your natural life” to our citizenship ceremonies.
    it is interesting that the Queen is our head of state but the UK and Australia are unable to reach agreement in providing for pensioners.
    14th Mar 2016
    Nard. I'm not quite sure what you are saying in your last paragraph. I believe I have set out the true circumstances but if it will help I can add more info you might seek to know.
    Also, I come back to the essential point of this debate and that is whether it is considered fair for the government to legislate a 6 week portability change that will impact greatly on many aged pensioners subject to portability provisions on their pensions.
    For the moment forget about me - let the focus revert back to 6 weeks - 26 weeks being retained - or a compromise of 12 weeks that one can be absent from Australia before having the pension cut.
    I look forward to seeing opinions in the hope it is not too late for the politicians sitting in the Senate to carefully consider public opinion and reaction to what, personally, I consider to be a proposed draconian measure.
    Thank you for your comments.
    14th Mar 2016
    Anyone who thinks the current government will look after them has rocks in their head. They're only interested in their supporter demographic and the big end of town. You want to stop this sort of crap? Put them last everwhere in the upcoming election.
    Funny face
    14th Mar 2016
    I do feel sorry for frank, he is helping other people! But people at home are " neglected" as well. My husband worked hard all his life, paid his taxes ( as did i) while raising our children. We did not live an extravagant lifestyle, ( the only time we went out to dinner was end of year work dinners!) my husband retired due to ill health, we sold our home and bought our daughter ( who has multiple sclerosis and Charcot Marie toothe syndrome, which is what my husband and other family will have ( some anyway, it's a " lottery"). We were lucky enough to gave a shack ( very simple) in which we chose to live so we could afford decent housing for our daughter. Now, because we out the house in our names ( to protect her) it's " deemed" an asset for me. Even though I pay all the rates etc and receive no benifit from it! My place is now old, leaking etc and where we are, we own our shack but not our land! When we " signed" it was a 99 year lease. Safe you think? No! About 15 years ago they decided we could buy our land ( then valued at between $8,000 to $10',000 dollars! Fair. My husband took it to the credit union, the lawyers looked at at quickly, and said we were safe! The lease was binding! They got better lawyers and because the lease was written in " gentlemans terms" " old style when a mans handshake meant something"! A lot of residents have lived here all there lives, as did their parents! We went to parliament and it was decided that they could not evict permanent residents! O.k we still have homes ( because of E.Protection people it's still held up ( land now worth &50,000 upwards! Most people can't afford that! Can't get loans because of pension and our " lease" they now call it" has gone up to $1,200 a year or more! Plus we still have to pay council rates! For what! They now collect our garbage ( woopie) and we have the facilities of the town library! That costs $600 a year ( and now concessions are gone). Our water prices are very high ( management own that) and instead of 2 bills a year, we now get 4! One dear old soul had a hear attack from the " stress" of it and the doctors blamed it entirely on this problem! But, somehow, shacks on some of the crown land were able to buy ( and this was 15 years ago when this first started!) they said it was unfair if we could buy our land, why couldn't they? Fair enough! They did and have ( at 15 year ago prices!) I have health problems myself but go to Adelaide at least once a fortnight ( more if necessary) to take food and shop for my daughter ( against doctors advice I might add!). But what can I do? If I shift to Adelaide I lose district nurse help etc and won't be able to get it in the city ( cost cutting) whilst the M.S society has gone bankrupt and all " help" has been cut to my daughter! We worked hard all our lives, lived economically, voted liberal all our life ( my husband was of the opinion that labour glad good intentions but always " bankrupted" the country! What are we to do now! Honestly, and I'm very sad to say this, and I mean no ill intentions by it, but if they stopped " paying babies to have babies", made them stay in school and get an education ( they all seem to have better t.v than me, mobile phones ( which I do not have) and, at the moment, the country is seeing the " results" of these children! Violence ( because they've been either unsupervised properly or taught no decent basic manners!) Stop paying babies to have babies! But not one politician has the guts to stop it! They won't get voted in again! Where is the country's best interest in that when our generation ( who have done the right thing all our lives ( as our parents, who went through the depression and war, taught us!) . This is the thanks we get! Seriously, I think they should start sending out a " little blue pill" with our 70 th birthday cards ( or maybe they would like it earlier) as as they say " we cannot be a burden"! Who has funded them all this time? How many of us were in the dole ( we would have thought it insulting and embarrassing!). Years ago, New Zealand had " work for the dole". The work done was marvellous ( my husbands sister married a New Zealander) but that has been stopped because it was deemed " insulting"! What's insulting about getting paid for work! So you just get it! Some don't even try ( 2 or 3 generations of them!) . Sorry to go on for so long, but I don't live in a mansion! My daughters house us worth more than mine but because it's not my " principle" place of residence, it's an " asset"! I can't sign it over to her, it's deemed a gift and I lose my pension ( and it costs me a fortune to do so!) . When I late husband set it up, all was fine! But rules change, then change again and again and who loses out? The ordinary person who is just trying to help a sick child while her mother is getting more disabled every day! Any help from anyone, no! Oh, hang on, forgot! Disability S.A will wash her windows once a year! Wow! Thanks! Because she is now 44, she is too old for some benefits and too young for others! Fair? I think not! Sorry again, but it just so frustrates me! Who in the heck DO we vote for next time? I just do not know!i don't think anyone trusts any of them any more and if Donald trump gets to be president of America, well, I don't like to be rude, but I think you can " kiss America goodbye". The mans a nut case ( just my opinion). Anybody else think so? I do feel for frank but he's not " alone" with having problems with them
    Not Senile Yet!
    15th Mar 2016
    Frank's situation is a direct result of Current Governments meddling with the Qualifying provisions for the Aged Pensions.
    It is nothing more and Nothing Less.
    When the Assets and Income tests were legislated by Australian Governments as provisions required to access the Aged Pensions they were directly changing the Aged Pension Legislated Provisions that required No Test whatsoever, except having lived and worked(and paid taxes) within Australia for a set required time(not sure what it was)!
    In short every Australian......Billionaire or Broke.....was entitled to an aged pension on attaining 65!
    Why did they change this????they overspent and could not Balance the Budget....yes that was why they implemented qualifying save cut costs!!!!!
    Why aged Pensions???? Because they had spent the Piggy Bank put asdie to finance Aged Pension in 1990 under Malcolm Fraser....this piggy bank amounted to Billions...yes Billions!!!
    7% of all tax was put aside to finance the Baby Boomers Aged Pensions....knowing that an unprecedented Volume would all retire within a 10-15yr window!
    What happened to the Billions????? Well...there was a they legally took the money and spent it on Infrastructure Projects to boost employment!
    Then they decide to introduce Compulsory Super to replace the old system! Sound good eh????
    This was a legal Rape of the Aged Pension Funds......The greatest Legal Robbery in Australia's history! They made Ned Kelly look like an Amateur!!!!
    Enough of the History Lesson!
    Change is necessary.....things/budgets need to be one can deny that!
    But our Party Puppets refused to Grandfather these change...which is exactly what is missing here! Those that are already receiving a Pension under Old Rules should not be made to accept radical changes that directly penalise them for decisions made based on Previous Rules.
    No one can possible adjust or Frank's story highlights....years later after all the moves have been made!
    The provision being made are to directly stop people living overseas on an Australian Pension...that is Clear!
    But Frank is being Penalised for doing something that was quite legal before the changes......and that Stinks of unfairness!
    The simple solution is to Grandfather these changes to only apply from the date of the changed Legislation!
    That would allow Frank to reap his rewards for hard work here whilst retaining his right to do as he wishes in retirement. need to understand ONE thing...just ONE!
    People of my Generation...still to retire and face this crap.....are fully aware.....and I mean FULLY.... that the NEW PARLIAMENT HOUSE magically appeared soon after this GREAT LEGAL ROBBERY in Canberra!!!!
    Further to that...NO LEGAL or Documented Paper/explanation has ever been published as how or on What those Retirement Billions were ever spent!
    Of course the Government is broke and can't afford to pay the aged Pensions.....they spent the money and refused to put anything further aside....But I note as do others within my age group that they kept the 7% we paid extra for our Pension and threw it into their gaping Black Hole.....labelled General Revenue!!!!!
    I for one ... will never vote for a Party Puppet MP ever again.....they are Corrupt by their Blind Loyalty to their Parties....they are not Honourable MP's....just Puppets!!!
    15th Mar 2016
    Not Senile Yet! I do believe that your opinions are based on your incorrect recollections of things you may have heard third hand somewhere and used to back up your incorrect version of history and attempt to make an incorrect argument plausible..

    A little history lesson on Social Security will show that there was never an automatic entitlement to age pension as there has always been some form of means testing.

    Do not get me started on the evolution of Superannuation and requirements to self-fund retirement rather than rely on the public purse.

    The Governments primary form of income is Tax receipts which is needed to fund all public expenditure or as you may wish to call it The Budget. The biggest slice of the Budget Pie is social security requiring almost 40% of Government Income or $154 Billion for 2015/16.

    At the turn of the century there was no social security system in Australia. Charitable relief was provided to needy persons by voluntary organisations, in some cases with the assistance of government grants.

    The main areas of need which attracted charitable assistance were the 'sick poor', neglected children, old people who were destitute and women who had been deserted or who had 'fallen' pregnant. The unemployed were assisted by grants of wages, or rations, in return for relief work provided by the government.

    The Commonwealth of Australia was formed on I January 1901 by federation of the six States under a written constitution which, among other things, authorised the new Commonwealth Parliament to legislate in respect of age and invalid pensions. In the event, the Commonwealth did not exercise this power until June 1908 when legislation providing for the introduction of means-tested 'flat-rate' age and invalid pensions was passed. The new pensions, which were financed from general revenue, came into operation in July 1909 and December 1910 respectively, superseding State age pension schemes which had been introduced in New South Wales (1900), Victoria (1900) and Queensland (1908) and an invalid pension scheme introduced in New South Wales (1908).Check your memory and history. Age Pension has always been “means tested”

    Means tests - Check your memory and history. Age Pension has always been “means tested” in some manner and has not ever been available on the basis that you worked and paid tax and had an automatic entitlement. That thinking and view of entitlement is a sad sad indictment of the give me attitude of Australians.

    Social security has had property and income tests, 'tapered means test' over its history.

    The pension means test has undergone several significant changes since 1970. It was abolished for pensioners aged 75 and over in 1973 and for pensioners aged 70 and over in 1975. The means test was replaced by an income test in 1976. In 1978 the rate of the free- of-income-test age pension for those aged 70 years and over was frozen. In 1983 this frozen rate became subject to a special income test which will eventually be overtaken by the normal income test.

    An assets test on pensions was introduced in 1985. It operates alongside the income test. Assets test limits are increased in line with price movements. The biggest change was the coupling of assets test with deeming that placed an income level on investment assets and cash that stopped very wealthy people from retaining very large balances in non-interest bearing accounts and claiming age pension. Wealthy people that could very easily fund their own retirement lifestyle without taxing the public purse.

    Social Security law has evolved as has Australia. With increased individual wealth and future Employer and personal funded retirements the burden on the public purse will continue to reduce.

    Interesting that the fact that the taxes you pay are there to support all government spending that provides Education, Health, Security, Public Service, Infrastructure, etc etc but we still want to take a pension. Why, beacause i am ENTITLED
    16th Mar 2016
    I've posted times countless the history of Social Security here and how the funding was derived, and how that process of funding direct via a portion of income tax was subverted into 'consolidated revenue', and the myth then promulgated that therefore that portion of income tax levied no longer existed for the purpose for which it was levied, but was somehow 'discretionary payment'.

    The argument has been - in my eyes - resolved long ago in favour of paying everyone the bought and paid-for pension, and then taxing all on the income derived above that, as properly determined and deemed as income or fringe benefits, and excluding a reasonable family home etc from assets or any deemed income (since none such is derived). FB may apply to extraordinarily sumptuous residences, in accordance with market value of the are in which it resides. That appears to be the only way of rectifying the current mess that all the fiddling has created for all.

    The same applies to the health care levy, as someone rightly pointed out (again several times or times many).

    The simple rule is - Never Trust A Politician. They will subvert any funding to their own favourite idea under the delusion that they know best and that they have suddenly inherited absolute control over funding and over society by being elected - rather than becoming servants to that society and its people.

    I've had enough of them - Stand Up The Viable Alternative.... or BOTR!
    15th Mar 2016
    I sympathise with Frank and know what he is talking about. I am liiving in Cambodia, no pension, and find I can live on about $200 a week. I have never been on the dole so when I was nearing retirement, I was offered a job in Vietnam and took it.I am still in the area. I had applied for the Pension (I had paid) for before I left, but when I got a job, I did a stupid thing - I am honest, so actually surrendered my pension till i finally retired. I reapplied in 2012 for my pension and it was rejected as I was overseas. OK, so I come back- what do I live on and where - I must wait 11 months before I regain my pension. I am 80 y.o. so I will find it hard to live being homeless and starving.
    15th Mar 2016
    Where is all the money going? All the asset sales, taxes, GST, rates, regos, levies.

    We should be able to see accounts of government income and expenditure.

    Something is incredibly wrong when honest aged taxpayers are treated this way.
    15th Mar 2016
    The money - or a huge amount of it - is going on obscene salaries and benefits to politicians and senior bureaucrats, war, and massive waste. And then there's the problem of the rich not paying their share, partly due to absurd tax concessions for the wealthy and partly due to off-shore investing and tax evasion.

    Yes, we should be able to see government accounts of income and expenditure. Actually, we can, but they are presented in a way that is deceptive and confusing.

    What we SHOULD be able to do is sue the government for breach of contract. We worked for decades and paid taxes and certain provisions existed that promised us benefits in later life. Those benefits have now been denied. That's a breach of contract. And we are suffering discrimination, because other sectors of the community have not been disadvantaged to the same extent as retirees. Name one other group on a very modest income (already slashed by falling investment returns) that has had their income cut suddenly - with no recourse or appeal - by up to $12000 a year?
    15th Mar 2016
    Rainy if you are on welfare you are always going to have a problem with Governments adjusting things such as overseas pensions.
    The pension is to get by on not live a lavish lifestyle here or overseas
    In Franks case he blew his cash and wants us to support him you would have to be Joking he needs to come back here and be accountable.
    I don"t believe any money should be sent overseas at all if you want welfare live here or save your money and be self funded and you can do what you like.
    15th Mar 2016
    Believe me. You can come back to Australia and get your 867.00 dollars a fortnight pension. Live very well on 250.00 a week and save or send money overseas to help your family. Its doable for two years. You can even go overseas during that two years on the money you save. Many of us are. They can try but they cant beat us.
    16th Mar 2016
    Yeah, mate *sucks on bourbon and coke** - I blew me money on ensuring that my kids need not look to poverty for life... mind you, I grew up in poverty, ad I don't mean that small town just to the north of Tasmania with a very wet climate... and I blew me money on paying into the tax so yer retired pollies could live the life of Riley while I nearly died of starvation...

    When are some of you people going to wake up? We ALL paid our way in many ways... surely in retirement we should be accorded the same Right to be treated equally as all those who had a better run?

    THEY don't have to worry if they will lose their livelihood if they choose to live offshore! Or worry that their pension will be chopped if they take a lovely Asian wife or whatever, or choose to work in Faroffistan succouring the poor and starving (as I plan to do and have done for many years).

    Damn, Sir! Don't tell me, an old Grunt, that my perimeter does not include the starving and dehydrated woman with the child just over there..... or even ten km away.... I'll pay for the farken fuel myself then! But I'm going out there NOW to pick them up! Now hand over the hydration packs..... NOW, Mister!

    Why should WE?
    15th Mar 2016
    P.S. The government can't afford to pay my measly pension, but they can afford 55 MILLION dollars to send 3 Iranians and 2 Rohingya to Cambodia. By the way, 3 of the 5 have now moved on to find another mug.
    15th Mar 2016
    What no one seems to realize is this ruling as absolutely nothing to fo with sending money overseas. It is only about keeping Australians in Australia. You can send every penny overseas if you like. You can beg on the street and make a lot of money. Rent a 5 bedrrom house. Get rent assistance and rent out rooms. So the question is. Why do they really want to keep us here?
    15th Mar 2016
    What no one seems to realize is this ruling as absolutely nothing to fo with sending money overseas. It is only about keeping Australians in Australia. You can send every penny overseas if you like. You can beg on the street and make a lot of money. Rent a 5 bedrrom house. Get rent assistance and rent out rooms. So the question is. Why do they really want to keep us here?
    15th Mar 2016
    Only assume to make you spend your money here to support the economy and make employment look good while the Feds collect the GST???
    16th Mar 2016
    In that case, every corporation that makes money here can be compelled to spend it here... every superannuant can be compelled to spend their super here and nowhere else..... every politician will be forbidden any overseas travel over and above a couple of weeks....

    Yes, Bruvvas.. the money has to stay HERE... there can be no exceptions! If a Fat Cat goes offshore for longer than the mandatory time period.. their bank account will be levied to compensate at a pro rata level, paid into consolidated revenue. Their money MUST be spent in Australia!

    Equal Treatment Under The Law DEMANDS this!

    So make it so!
    15th Mar 2016
    My post has contributed some interesting feedback and raised several issues concerning our pension entitlements and I'm appreciate of the comments of all who, so far, have contributed.
    I would really like to revert attention to get further views on the government's proposed change to the portability provisions from an existing 26 weeks to just 6 weeks before a pensioner, subject to the portability of their pension entitlements, will have their aged pension cut quite substantially if they remain outside Australia, for whatever reason, beyond 6 weeks.
    Many former migrants, myself included, are subject to portability provisions governing their pensions. If I could just quote one example to illustrate my point.
    Let us assume a pensioner, subject to portability rules, needs to go overseas after 1 January 2017 to visit a very sick, close family member, perhaps an elderly parent living in Europe, but returns home to Australia once the relative recovers or, in the worst case scenario, passes away. The returning retiree will then have exceeding the time allowed to be absent (6 weeks if the legislative changes pass the Senate and are adopted) and his or her pension automatically cut. Is this by any means likely to be considered fair in a country regarding as giving everyone a fair deal?
    Also, one correspondent, Joe, if I'm correct, considers that no Australian pension entitlements should be paid overseas. Could we have some focus on this viewpoint?
    The Senate I'm assuming is yet to consider the portability provision changes already passed by the Lower House, the House of Representatives, and there is time for those opposed to the acceptance of the 6 week changes to make their views heard, including by this forum, in the expectation that the politicians will have a better idea of the folly of their ways, well at least I can only hope so.
    15th Mar 2016
    While i do sympathize with you Frank. The Age Pension provides financial assistance and access to a range of concessions for eligible older Australians. If you meet the age and residence requirements. Read again - If you meet the age and residence requirements. To get your payment or concession card while outside Australia you must continue to meet the qualification rules for that payment or concession card.

    No I do not know your full particulars, but from what i read, you went overseas and insisted on being overseas to the detriment of your marriage and financial position. You made substantial profit on your Unit as you said you said substantial Capital Gain Tax.

    So at this stage you must have been financially in a good position but purchased a property, mortgaged to do it despite having the settlement proceeds from your previous unit. The one you made a substantial profit on. You had a mortgage and no job spending a number of years to get the property to where you wanted it. I can only assume that you were on Centrelink support living up in North Queensland.

    So Frank as i read it you went overseas to teach as a volunteer, - commendable, but also costing your marriage and the wealth/equity that you had built up in your property. Commendable as it was that you in your early to mid 60s left your wife to be in Thailand.

    This is where I have problems in reconciling your actions and choices as being a problem for the Australian Tax payer. Frank you were 42 when coming to Australia therefore you are receiving some UK pension and worked in Australia for around 20 years despite being a resident for some 25.

    Not everything adds up
    16th Mar 2016
    The 'residence requirement' has nothing to do with where you live in your retirement years - it is about how long you've lived here to be in receipt of a pension, not where you live after you get it.
    15th Mar 2016
    Frank, yes it seems a little harsh to change qualification so drastically. I have seen many many changes in the Centrelink rules that are mainly designed to reduce the cost to the Public purse. Unfortunately there has been and still remains a degree of entitlement claimed by Aussies that the payment of tax during their working life automatically assures them of a Pension forever.

    Changes are made and you need to meet the new requirements. I can see that you will be effected but you still wish to maintain your Thailand residency. Residency is a matter of fact and you live in Thailand, do not have a connection to Australia.

    My understanding is that you will continue to receive a reduced rate of benefit proportionate to your Australian residency. Personally I believe that is fair that a country that you have lived in for only one third of your life and worked in for only one half of your working life should only pay a portion of your retirement pension.
    15th Mar 2016
    Nerd, I consider it right that I respond to your two most recent posts which need correction.
    Firstly, my working life residency in Australia requires, correctly as you put it, necessitates my compliance with portability provisions which, currently, are set at 26 weeks, but with the proposed changes will be reduced to just 6 weeks and initiated by retrospective measures which I maintain are unfair and retrospective legislation, in the past, considered wrong by the courts.
    I returned to Australia within every 26 weeks since leaving to take a TEFL course and initiate some teaching practice on an unpaid, voluntary basis, in 2004, just after qualifying for the aged pension. I returned home in 2005 after qualifying in the expectation that my wife would consent to moving into a new apartment where we would have less maintenance and could live comfortably on our combined pensions at the couple rate. My wife refused to move because she said she would not live in a box, as had happened when I bought a retirement apartment in WA after I had acquired it from the plan and completed the payment and furnished it by the time I finished my two year contract overseas.
    I had to sell the WA apartment and try and locate a place where she would settle. I have explained that was in Kuranda.
    Once I sold the WA apartment I gave my wife A$50,000 and bought the land, built a house and took out a mortgage in joint names to landscape the property, creating a very attractive home in the process and it provided me with enjoyment and therapy in doing the work myself.
    The reasoning behind the mortgage was to enhance the value of the 2 acre property and allow us to sell it in exchange for an apartment more suitable to aged retirees wanting a more comfortable lifestyle, including holidays together, put also to place us in closer proximity to medical facilities, transport, including public transport and better shopping facilities.
    By 2004 the house was finished and I felt the need to keep active. I sought local opportunities for volunteer work, especially by way of instructing or teaching in the educational area but there was nothing available or offered by way of approaches I made to the University and enquiries via Centrelink.
    Once I had completed the TEFL course I again sought possible voluntary teaching opportunities but got no responses.
    If you revert back to the lengthy post I gave to which you implied I hadn't given the complete story, then you will read the events and occurrences which prompted my return to continue voluntary teaching in Thailand.
    It was never considered that I had left Australia permanently or that I had separated from my wife and the 'separation' was occasioned by my wife solely seeking and obtaining a single rate pension.
    I concerned myself enough for my daughter and my wife to accede to my daughter's plea to buy the property to facilitate my daughter acquiring equity to get a home of her home and to allow my wife to stay 'at home' and not to have move into a rental.
    I have also put it on record why on my return visits home I could not stay in hotel accommodation for long, bearing in mind the costly air fares each 6 months.
    I was deemed to be non-resident by Centrelink due to my wife having been granted a separation; such an order in terms of the statutory provisions of the Social Security Act, but not in terms of the legal definition of 'separation' in law and presumably I am married still in terms of the Marriage Act. The considerations made by Centrelink in deeming I was non-resident included my short stays each time, I had no job, savings, home, wife or family connections to Australia, despite my contention that my marriage is still a legal one and my daughter and grandson live in the ACT.
    I have also set out how I sought to get advice on state housing assistance to return home and the reasons why it could not be possible.
    I hope I have touched upon some of your misconceptions raised by your queries. I hope, too, that given the circumstances of not having accommodation to stay at home anymore, or be able to rent a place on my pension I must continue, even at my advanced age and in failing heath, to return to Australia to maintain my aged pension but will not be able to do so if the portability provisions require returning within every 6 weeks are adopted

    16th Mar 2016
    Frank is incorrect, but correct. It is an Australian pension, paid to a pensioner as an earned and paid-for right - therefore it is at the discretion of the recipient where they spend it.

    The discussion point, to me appears to be that being paid a pension in Australia means you should have to spend it (or the majority of it) in Australia. That is a rule that does not apply to anyone else, and therefore has no validity whatsoever.

    You don;t demand that a company that makes a profit here spend all that profit here.. or that a superannuant who earned it here spend it all here. there is therefore no 'right' to discriminate against pensioners, and it is, in fact, an affront to those pensioners to even consider doing so - as well as this being nothing but a clear indication by (this and the 'other - both equally guilty of the same insolence of office) regarding pensioners as their serfs, and as being in a position to be disposed at whim.

    Sorry - lads and lassies in Parliament - not going to happen.
    16th Mar 2016
    And please - let us not discuss the utilities allowance - if you are not using utilities then perhaps there is a justification for not paying allowance for them - BUT - if you are temporarily offshore, do you cut off your power? No - and it still costs you about $40 a month just to keep the account plus probably a fee for suspending usage as well.

    Just another area that needs to be looked at properly (love that choice of word)....

    16th Mar 2016
    Frank why not create a Non-Profit organisation? Many charity organisations do well financially.
    16th Mar 2016
    Jackie. Just read your advice and I appreciate your comments.
    I'm pretty much housebound these days with failing health so no longer capable of going out to teach the underprivileged I did in the recent past. I retain an interest, however, in supporting the needy and created a website to aid the under-resourced medical services, including hospitals, the disabled and orphans in the care of a local charity.
    The website has contributed to accessing and supplying hospital beds, clothing, spectacles and mobility aids to the Pacific territory in which I undertook a 2 year contract I referred to in my earlier commentary to this site.
    I am currently negotiating with the particular Pacific country government and a recognized charitable trust in New Zealand to sign a MOU to supply the hospitals with up to 10 40 ft containers of medical supplies and equipment per annum.
    I seek no reward for this work and, as previously, it is my wish to see out my remaining years in a voluntary capacity aiding the needy.
    16th Mar 2016
    No, Trebor I do not have any pension from past police service. I was seconded on contract terms to several police forces in a number of overseas countries leading up to their Independence and thereafter in one instance. The exception was when I served 3 years in the HK Police but resigned when I became concerned by what I perceived to be allegations of corruption and my instincts proved correct when the Independent Commission Against Corruption was formed after a police chief superintendent was charged and jailed for corruption while a serving officer. Serving just 3 years in the HKP did not attract any pension entitlement.
    The money I earned during my service years I transferred to Australia to buy my home, pay for my kids schooling and built a granny flat for my mother, at 88 and blind, who I brought out from the UK where she was unable to care for herself.
    Anyone familiar with the low salaries paid to contract police officers in former British dependent territories in the early 60s to the early 70s, including HK, will have some understanding of the difficulties in putting aside savings while bringing up small kids.
    17th Mar 2016
    This commentary on what might be considered a blog site has thrown up some very interesting thoughts and observations in respect of what I outlined as my predicament in the light of portability changes relating to the payment of my aged pension from the end of 2016 if the Senate adopts the legislative proposals already passed by the House of Representatives.
    I want to thank all those who have spared the time to write and it is clear that I am not alone in having concerns about my own situation and can only hope that the remarks and deep feelings expressed by many pensioners will be taken into consideration by politicians who should have our welfare in their hands.
    One contributor remarked, “It is interesting that the Queen is our head of state but the UK and Australia are unable to reach agreement in providing for pensioners.” I presume the reference was in relation to the Reciprocal Pension Agreement which Australia scrapped soon after I arrived in Australia with my wife and family in 1980.
    It should be noted that at the time I was considering moving to Australia I was aware, like many other intending migrants from the UK that the advice given by the then UK Department of Health and Social Security was this (and I quote). ‘Under this Agreement (the UK-Australia Reciprocal Pension Agreement) persons going from the United Kingdom to Australia can count their residence in the United Kingdom towards satisfying the residence conditions for Australian benefits.”
    With the scrapping of that Agreement by Australia I fell victim to the AWLR requirements and why I am now subject to the portability rules attached to receiving a pension and which, until now, I have complied with the 26 weeks provisions.
    In my own comments to the “blog” I raised the issue of the separation order imposed by Centrelink after my wife successfully obtained a single rate pension. Subsequent reading of the law provisions in the Family Court Act imply that separation can be adjudicated when married parties stop living together. I married my wife outside of Australia and I maintain I did not stop ‘living together’ but was merely working in a voluntary capacity outside of Australia when Centrelink made its decision and declared I was separated. Should not there have been a ruling on such a course of action by the Family Court? My say in the matter was never considered, there has never been a separation order made in terms of the Family Court Act and, importantly, as I was married before arriving in Australia would it have been possible for the Family Court to have jurisdiction or were my rights surrendered when I became an Australian citizen?
    Another correspondent to the running commentary suggested that if I was outside of Australia in, I think, in January 2014, then I would not be subject to the 35 yrs AWLR changes but my status could be grandfathered and I would be allowed to claim the previous 25 yrs AWLR status.
    I thank this person for that advice and it seems he/she was correct but, in my case, my AWLR fell short even of the 25 yrs AWLR.
    I and so many who have written in are in the hands of those who will sit and decide the 6 weeks legislative proposals at the next session of the Senate, but I sincerely hope they will be mindful that the suggested changes are discriminatory to migrants subject to portability on their aged pensions. The legislative proposals are viewed as retrospective changes and retrospective law is a bad thing. The introduction of a 6 weeks provision in the portability rules will bring about hardship to many aged pensioners, it will be mean in the extreme and not in keeping with the spirit of a fair go, but has that ideal of Australian fairness long gone?
    18th Mar 2016
    Here is a quote from COTA which speaks for itself.

    "To Age Pension Portability Discriminatory

    18th of February 2016

    Changes To Age Pension Portability Discriminatory Says COTA

    From January 2017, pensioners will have their pension reduced if they’re abroad for six weeks or more. Last week legislation to change Age Pension portability passed the House of Representatives. If the changes pass the Senate, the number of weeks an Age Pension recipient can be outside Australia before their payments are affected will be reduced from 26 weeks to six.

    The changes are part of the government’s policy to reduce the cost of social services.
    Many have called the changes mean and discriminatory particularly as it affects older people who migrated to Australia and still have family in their original counties.

    COTA believes the change is excessively punitive and inequitable in its impact on Australians not born in this country and who maintain cultural and familial ties to their place of birth. As around 40 per cent of Age Pensioners were not born in Australia the impact of the measure is likely to be significant and unfairly borne by one segment of our community.

    Ian Yates CEO of COTA Australia said: “We know from our members and constituency that it is not unusual for older Australians born overseas to take ‘the one big trip’ to their country of birth when their working lives are over. They make the most of their time there, given the cost of travel, spending an extended period seeing family and friends before returning to Australia. COTA does not see this as unreasonable.
    “We are also aware that some retirees, particularly in later life, travel to their country of origin when a relative or close friend is gravely or terminally ill, or indeed when they themselves may be in such circumstance and would benefit."

    "See more at:
    18th Mar 2016
    We are continually being told that we live in "Global" economy. It seems this does not apply to pensioners retiring overseas. Strange is that.
    18th Mar 2016
    Here is a copy of my letter I sent, today, to the Editor of the Australian Newspaper and
    copied to the Leader of the Opposition at Parliament House in Canberra.


    I, like the other 40 percent of Age Pensioners who were not born in Australia and are subject to portability provisions applying to their Age Pensions, will have our pensions reduced substantially if the Senate votes to pass the proposals, already approved by the House of Representatives, and the law becomes effective from 1 January 2017.

    The changes, if passed, will mean the number of weeks an Age Pension recipient can be outside Australia before their payments are affected will be reduced from 26 weeks to six.

    The proposed changes are mean, punitive and wholly discriminatory and will greatly impact on Australians not born in the country but who have cultural and family ties to their places of birth.

    In the event, for example, that an overseas family members is taken gravely ill and travels to see his or her relative but must remain away from Australia for longer than 6 weeks, then how fair is that that person should be penalized by having their pension reduced?

    If the government is intent on pursuing the inequitable policy to allegedly reduce the cost of social services by taking a swipe at the Aged Pensioner migrants then, at least, come up with a compromise and impose a 16 or 12 week rule, but not 6 weeks.
    Old Sailor Bushie
    31st Mar 2016
    The perversion of the way in which the Australian Age Pension is characterised continues. Successive governments have persistently and unrepentantly sought to distort it's purpose. From it's origins (1908) it was meant to be a stipend accorded as reward for having spent ones' life contributing through one's work and taxes to the benefit of the Nation. The convoluted conditions, exceptions, deletions and disqualifications dreamed-up by successive wastrel governments and their self-interested supporters are an unmitigated moral blot -one of many- on Australia's political history. The Politocracy of this country have many crimes to answer for, as one day their self-seeking heirs and successors will.... The greatest National misfortune however is that by then, most of the chiselers, self-aggrandisers, robbers and cheats responsible for their final downfall will long be dead and unavailable for punishment.
    4th Apr 2016
    A quote: "The proportion of Australians who were born overseas has hit its highest point in 120 years, with 28% of Australia’s population – 6.6 million people – born overseas, according to recent figures by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). And according to the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA), nearly 40% of those receiving the Age Pension were not born in Australia."
    How fair are the proposed portability changes to these 6.6 million (overseas born Australians - myself included - I again ask?
    robert allan
    27th May 2016
    for Frank, but the Government will not bend to Frank or others who are in a similar position to him,things will only get tougher in the coming years regarding Pension portability. As I have just renewed my residential Visa in Aust. which now states you must reside In Aust. at least 2 years in the last five to be gradated a 5 year Visa. or you will be granted a 1 year Visa. at the same cost as a 5 year Visa over $400 Aust. Dollars.
    29th Nov 2016
    to Ms, Debbie McTaggart, Im amazed at those comments, regarding the aged pension is not meant to fund lifestyles overseas. Being an indigenous Australian which means, being born to ,or native to this country, the law says I can take my pension and live where I choose, it is not a requirement to live in poverty in Australia. Whether you have savings or not, is not the issue, your comments are simply an opinion, not based on fact, which most retirees would disagree with.
    7th Dec 2016
    For your information because looks that nobody knows that the pension cut from 26 weeks to 6 weeks has been active for more than 1 year.
    I have a full pension (Over 45 years in AU) and everytime I go overseas for more than 6 weeks the pension is cut to the minimum.

    So I am not sure what in hell you people are talking about ???? Maybe Centrelink has been unfair with me and cut my pension without any reason ????.

    I am AU citizen with over 45 years continuously working and I get cut to 6 weeks only ??????

    Someone explain this to me ??????

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