Government alienates older Aussies

A recently released Federal Treasury report risks alienating older Australians, with the Government claiming that the average worker will shell out around $1800 this year on Age Pensions.

The cost of ‘welfare’ is again being touted as a burden on Aussie taxpayers, with the report claiming $83 of taxable income a week is spent on welfare payments.

Around $6.30 of the $83 is spent on unemployment benefits, $20 goes to family benefits and $17 to people on disability support.

The majority of taxpayer ‘welfare’ support is spent on the Age Pension, at a cost of $35 per average Australian worker, making it the single most expensive form of welfare.

A person earning $58,000 per year will pay $11,500 income tax to the Government, with $4326 going towards welfare programs.

Health and defence were the two other major expenses for the taxpayer, at $2197 and $1022 respectively. Combined, the cost of welfare accounts for two of every three dollars spent by the Federal Government.

The report also highlighted government debt, which is at a record high $517 billion – more than double the debt in 2013. Australian taxpayers fork out $474 a year to help cover what has become the country’s fastest growing spending area.


Opinion: Government needs to stop calling the Age Pension ‘welfare’

In what may have been a quiet news period over Christmas, the Federal Treasury welfare estimates report sure provided some fodder for the media.

And while government propaganda promotes the cost of ‘welfare’ as a burden on taxpayers with older Australians again being made a target, it’s probably not the most insulting element of the report.

Calling the Age Pension ‘welfare’ takes that crown.

The Australian Parliamentary Library may say the term ‘welfare’ can be used to refer to all facets of the welfare state, but the Government may do well to change its language when it refers to the Age Pension, or else it risks alienating a good portion of its voter base.

It seems it’s easy for the Government to forget that age pensioners paid tax all their working lives in order to receive this entitlement in retirement.

And what makes this worse is that the Government targets retirees and pensioners, yet hands out hundreds of millions, maybe billions, in corporate welfare each year. How is it that Australian PAYG individuals forked out around $194 billion of income tax in 2015-16 and corporate tax collected from Australia’s biggest companies came in at around $38.2 billion? The Australian Tax Office last year said that around 36 per cent of multinationals and big firms paid no tax in 2015-16.

Let’s not overlook the fact that our pension expenditure is still relatively modest compared to the rest of the world.

The Government’s attempt to illuminate the country about the cost of welfare has only managed to anger many who see the Age Pension as a retirement right borne of years of paying tax and working hard to enjoy the fruits of their working lives.

Older Australians should never be referred to as a public burden. Not only is it disrespectful it’s downright rude and undeserved.

Do you believe the pension is an entitlement or a handout? Would you like to see the Government change tack on its labelling of the Age Pension? Were you aware that two thirds of government expenditure goes towards welfare, health and defence?

Related articles:
Age Pension meaning changes
Age Pension no guarantee
Can I get an Age Pension?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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