Age pensioners are well-off

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One in ten Australians living on the dole cannot afford a substantial meal each day, one in eight cannot afford prescription medicines and one in 20 cannot afford to heat their homes. This research has come from a review of the pensions, commissioned by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in 2008. Although these figures were listed as a reference in the final report, the research itself was never published.

The research compares ‘deprivation rates’ among seven groups of Australians. These groups are:

  • Low-wage workers
  • Newstart (dole) recipients
  • Aged pensioners
  • Veterans’ pensioners
  • Disability pensioners
  • Parenting payment recipients
  • Self-funded retirees

It shows that self-funded retirees are the least deprived. After self-funded retirees, the next best-off group is those receiving the Age Pension. Where 1.4 per cent of aged pensioners are unable to afford medical treatment if necessary, the proportion of those on the dole in the same position is 22 per cent.  Where 0.7 per cent of Age Pension recipients cannot afford a substantial meal each day, the proportion of Australians on the dole in the same position is 10.3 per cent.

The report was careful to state that these results do not imply that the Age Pension is adequate—they simply show how inadequate the dole and other government pensions are.

To find out more read The Age article Revealed: dole recipients too poor to buy food, medication or heating
 

Comment – Let’s be honest, it’s a handout

At least one in four pensioners is living below the poverty line. It is important to keep that fact in mind when discussing the inadequacies of the dole for two reasons. The first is that it shows how critical the situation with the dole is as, of those receiving a government payment, aged pensioners are better off than every other group, except those who are completely self-funded.

The second is that those on the Age Pension may be better off than those on the dole, but they are not well-off. Having a quarter of a demographic below the poverty line is nothing to cheer about, even when you show people how much worse the situation could be.

I feel conflicted about the dole. On one hand the idea that a group of Australians is living in such extreme poverty is sickening. Australia is a wealthy, economically stable country. It is unnecessary (in theory) for any Australian citizen to suffer in this way. Our government has chosen to spend its money on projects other than welfare, as can be seen in the Age Pension rates. Other economically equivalent countries provide an Age Pension (or similar program) which is worth 25 per cent more than we offer our pension-age Australians. So ours is not a system which helps those who need it most, and that is a very sad realisation.

On the other hand the dole, unlike the Age Pension, is a handout. It is given to people who need money not because they are in some way prevented from working, but because they do not work. While I understand that some people are incapable of holding down work, whether because of an emotional issue, a mental problem or an addiction, not everyone fits into this category. There are also those who very simply do not want to work. Those who will not work.

Newstart allowance, or the dole, was never meant to support people in a long-term fashion. It is designed to tide people over until they can once again work for a wage and stand on their own two feet. If we increase the handout aren’t we removing the incentive for these people to support themselves?

Is this point of view too harsh? Should we be providing welfare for all Australian citizens who need it, or should we redefine ‘need’ from ‘wants a handout’?

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112 Comments

Total Comments: 112
  1. 0
    0

    So the mighty politicians all think they are doing it tough on their salaries. Especially Bill Shorten and his ministerial payments of around $ 330, 000 a year plus all his bills for his electorate office paid for by Government. Airfares when travelling around, car driver, stamps, phone, etc. Just wish they would come down a live on about $ 15,000 for 6 months and pay all their own bills out of it and then tell us that we do are not doing it tough. I am only on the Disabilty Pension and so is my wife.

  2. 0
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    It is amazing that our political maters, say they can’t survive on $300Kpa when a pensioner couple earn just on 30kpa which some 100 times lower than the disadvantaged political masters.
    Who is kidding who?
    1 in 4 pensioners may have been ok, but since the introduction of the “Carbon Tax” and with increasing cost of living (food, utilities etc.) I would say 3 in 4 pensioners are now having a very tough time maintaining a basic lifestyle.

    • 0
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      Interesting comment.
      Care to elaborate as to just how the “Carbon Tax” has already affected your cost of living?
      Honest appraisal please and don’t just parrot selected Pollies or Shock Jocks.
      I’m waiting to hear carbon tax blamed for “my team” missing the Grand Final.

    • 0
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      As pensioners are being fully compensated for the effects of the carbon tax, this shouldn’t be an issue for them. There are, of course, other factors driving up the price of power but these shouldn’t be confused with the carbon tax. It looks like Tony Abbott’s scare campaign has been very successful.

    • 0
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      Math or arithmetic was not where you excelled Coversharvey !

      The multiplier is 10 not 100 and you got an extra handout from the Govt to cover carbon tax.

      It is tough however.

  3. 0
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    Totally agree ! The welfare payments were meant to just fill a temporary gap, to help people until they can find work. Age pension is a payment people have paid for with their taxes. This was money was held in a fund separate from all the other monies until Mr Fraser took it and put it into General revenue so he could spend it! But why would anyone try to find work when they can get $1000 a week on welfare because they have a wife and children? The payments to unmarried mothers also just encourage them to go out and have more children to keep the money coming in. Those who do not have work should be made to fill any position that is available to them, in their area, and that they will be able to do. Trolly collecting, cleaning, shelf stacking, anything that will help them get back into the working ethos.

    • 0
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      I agree, too. Dole payments should never reach a level where someone can happily live on them without feeling the need to go and look for work. They are meant to keep you alive why you look for another job.

    • 0
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      Suggest you Centrelink’s rates before making statements such as ‘$1,000 p.w. on welfare’ – you are way, way off the mark.
      Dole payments are well below the poverty line, and I challenge anyone who thinks it is a hand out to try living on it for a year – see how you go paying rent/rates, insurances, utilities, transport, medical care, food, clothing, schooling costs.
      Sadly, in many instances the jobs are just not available, and once you are in your late 30’s, employers just don’t want to know you.

  4. 0
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    Totally agree with all the above. I am on aged pension and still need to supplement it with casual work which I guess I will have to do until I don’t need to anymore if you know what I mean.

  5. 0
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    What serious transparent socialistic government would conduct an in-depth demographic analysis of those on social security payments of any kind and then not publish the results – that is absurd for a start [where is the ‘accountability’ here?] plus you cannot compare apples with oranges !!

    If someone wont work yet clearly are capable of work then the only sensible answer is some kind of ‘enforced’ labour and/or being penalized by loss of ‘handout’. That already happens with ‘volunteer’ approved activities – http://www.volunteering.com.au/become_a_volunteer/centrelink_information.asp

    That some regional areas have high unemployment like the fruit growing seasonal picking and the mining industry not able to get remote area workers seems absurd but people cannot be forced to leave their preferred place of residence. Centrelink takes a dim view of relocating to an area that has lower work prospects. Conscription would be such a ‘hot potato’ I cant see any government game enough to introduce that !!

    The Aged Pension has such broad parameters it is a joke – some have huge homes, the latest cars, boats, all the modern gadgets, travel overseas regularly and have large investments yet still get the full $755 per fortnight [they may ‘volunteer’ the prescribed hrs per week]. Those at the other end of the scale that have to rent accommodation [get rent allowance] suffer on $755 per fortnight. This needs reform badly – but by whom ?

    • 0
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      aquatrek

      Are you for real????? If you work part time on the aged pension you have to report fortnightly, have a cut in pension. If you have money and assets that is scrutinesed. The people you describe must be concealing monday and assets to be getting the full pension. Boy I would l ike to know what sort of aged pension the people you describe live on, it is not the one I receive. One has to live a very simple and strict existence. I have to think before I go to the city, let alone have a holiday. Caring for a home,having repairs made, keeping warm, having an elderly car, keeping it registered and serviced leaves barely enough to keep warm, feed pets, and feed oneself. Op-shops are where most buy their clothes. I don’t think the people you know are reliant the pension and if they are not they would not be getting the full pension, pitiful as that is. Most have paid taxes for over half a century, often for community facilities they have never used.

    • 0
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      OOps I meant – concealing money, not monday. Darn keyboard, it should know what I meant and corrected it!!!!!!!!!!! Cannot depend on anything these days. :0)

    • 0
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      I dont make outrageous stupid ill informed statements MEK. I have direct personal knowledge of a REAL family who live that way. Go and check out the upper limits that you are allowed to have yet still receive the full aged pension – your eyes will fall out of your head. Plus I have been on Newstart and I have ‘volunteered’ within the last 5 years and I am now on the aged pension. I also watch every penny so I am also REAL.

    • 0
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      MFK, You obviously don’t know the system at all. You definitely can work part-time and still get a full pension.. check it out mate, ring Centrelink.

      Are you a smoker? Or a drinker? No.. I don’t want to know, but I found it terribly difficult to live on the aged pension until I stopped smoking (after being a heavy smoker for 47yrs); suddenly I had more money than I needed and now live comfortably on the aged pension even saving for extra things that I want, rather than need.
      I’m not saying that I wouldn’t like more, but I’ve proved to myself that I really can survive well on what I get now from the Government.

    • 0
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      YOU ARE JOKEING, i have a( 21yr old car) a (75 yr old federation style house) which has 11 stairs front & back . I have Ostio & Rumitoid arthritis, NOW when i get my groceries , i put them up 3 steps & go up 3 steps & up another 3 steps & go up another 3 steps .until i get to the top .& I AM ON =the waiting list which is 5 years for a lift ,WHICH I AM supposed to save $5,000.00. PLEASE TELL ME HOW ?also i have many other sickness .

    • 0
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      fpbsix, I am so sorry to hear that. If I lived near you I’d give you a hand. Please check out the help in your area, for shopping, small repairs and additions (like ramps, rails etc.) that might be available. Your local Council should be able to help. I cringe that people are suffering so much in Australia just getting their groceries inside.

    • 0
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      Where on earth did you get that figure of $755 per f/n. That is a mystery to me.

  6. 0
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    I think the welfare payments will be getting much smaller soon. The number of people that are entering this country, as ‘refugees’ is getting too big for the welfare system to handle.
    This year’s rate is 1000+ per month so far this year. The costs for these people are wide reaching; from the initial housing and placement, to the amounts given to Indonesia to stop the illegal boat people, by providing boats to stop them, paying for the refugees in their detention camps. I have searched the net to find out the employment figures for refugees – but they seem to be invisible! Perhaps someone can show me the right place to look? At the present rate we will be totally broke in just a few years.

    • 0
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      Angry Anderson – when in power – will stop them !!! Lets hope that the next Coalition [mixed bag of whoever can be bought off] government leaves out the Greens otherwise we will be having them as permanent house guests LOL

    • 0
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      Did either of you see Go Back Where You Came From” on SBS last night. it runs over three nights, tonight, tomorrow and then a special Insight on Friday night. Excellent program. Angry Anderson and Peter Reith are among those who take a walk in the shoes of the refugee. One would hope, perhaps in vain, they may come out the other end along with the shock jock also on the show, with a more compassionate and humane attitude to refugees. Last night they went from looking embarrassed to terrified. Easy to make cheap shots at refugees when you are in a blessed country, behind a desk, with a meal waiting and a warm bed at the end of the day. I think our anti-refugee mouths will find they have feet of clay when in the situation some of these folk have been in before coming here.

    • 0
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      MEK: If you were really deeply interested in the refugee/asylum situation then you would also have watched the following Dateline program on Sri Lanka – a country I spent a month in when the war was still in progress. There are literally hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, predominantly Tamil both in Sri Lanka and Indian camps, who have no generational future whatsoever. Yet Australian tourism adds are a frequent TV enticement -duh. These refugees, all quietly confidant of boating to Oz illegally, are a direct by-product of a generational ethnic war. Oz cannot take every refugee otherwise the very Oz society itself will deteriorate. Compassion, respect etc are all well and good but Oz is not a refugee ‘camp’.

    • 0
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      Aquatrek

      Thank you for your comment. I am indeed deeply intersted in the refugee situation. I saw Dateline fleetingly as I was at that time on SBS online watching the interview and questions given the young woman participant. I intend to watch Dateline online. I appreciate what you have said. We cannot take all, but we can take a lot more than we are currently doing. Conversely there are a few “fair dinkum” Aussie yobbos we could happily ship elsewhere to make way for some people prepared to add to this nation not just take from it. :0)

    • 0
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      Irishwolfhound, here we are talking about the trials of living on the age pension and you bring up refugees. Somehow if these refugees lived as well as most of our age pensioners, they wouldn’t give two hoots about risking their lives to come to Australia. How mean-spirited to not want to help to our utmost, people who’ve endured lives so deprived, so harsh, that we can’t even begin to imagine it. Australia doesn’t take anywhere near as many refugees as other Western countries, per capita, so let’s at least do as well as those other countries and do it with a warm and open heart. We CAN afford it. My only concern is for those refugees who live outside the law once in Australia. We should reserve the right to send them home if they are found to be disobeying our laws. My two cents.

  7. 0
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    Lets forget the carbon tax for now it as not affected anyone a great deal just yet only Mr Abbott trying to scare everyone a job he do’s very well, but for a polli on $300,000+ to say he cant manage is an insult to all Australian pensioners, Mr Shorten should try and live on the pension for 6 months not just 1 week or 1 month lets see how he struggles then.

    • 0
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      Noddy I agree, they have no idea.

    • 0
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      noddy, sorry can’t agree, I think Shorten’s remarks prove the point for us. If he can’t live on his salary then surely it makes us look as poor as we are.
      Remember, in a lot of cases we didn’t get super or the opportunity to save for our old age. In our case we managed to own what we had when we retired,so, we expected to be alright. Sorry the car now needs replacing, and maintenance on the house, so it looks like we will be borrowing on the house to repair things.
      Great isn’t it, the banks had us most of our life and they are going to get us again.

    • 0
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      Did our Drew ever ‘publish’ his media stunt attempt to live like a pensioner ?

    • 0
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      I don’t want to label Drew’s week as a media stunt. I saw it more as a genuine attempt to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I am looking forward to seeing his article and had hoped to see it earlier.

  8. 0
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    People who are self-funded retirees, have reasonable funds (classed as an asset) and own their own home often get no pension at all OR concessions. I was made redundant prior to deeming age so have had to pay tax on the funds I have been living on from my Super. I have been unable to get another job because I couldn’t pass the medical. It wasn’t that I didn’t want one.
    I pay full price for my medication. I did manage to get a small concession on my council rates this year by applying under the Seniors card rules via a State Govt. Dept. However because my Birthday is in Sept. when the full amount was due in 1/9 last year, I didn’t get a concession for the installments due after that. It will be interesting to see if I get any on my ESL this year.
    Like my now late father said some years ago, you pay tax on your wages, on the interest in your bank account (on the money you have already paid tax on), then you are hit when you start living on your super. He always said It seemed there was little incentive to save for your old age but he did anyway.

  9. 0
    0

    Until there is decentralisation, we in the country areas, no matter where in Australia, will always have young members of the community on the dole. Our children, unlike previous generations, are now part of the technological age, and as such, do not want to farmers. If there were jobs in the country areas, such as Government Departments, both State and Federal, we could halve the dole rate in the “bush” areas overnight. It is this current batch of “Dole Bludgers” that rae the “Lost Generation”. Shame on us.

    • 0
      0

      Excellent idea – decentralisation – was once done – needs to be again.
      Would make jobs and of course no need to worry about distances between departments etc for reporting or even talking in meetings with the technology to video conference and of course the internet – making it even more attractive to governments to sell off inner CBD buildings for a new one built in country area on less expensive land and all the employees moving out would add to the community to improve schools etc as well as turnover in retail area. A plus plus.
      Meanwhile back in the cities would ease the prices of houses over time as people move out leaving them up for sale – meanwhile maybe renting etc and could even bring down house prices over time too.
      Lots of pluses there so do suggest it to all MPs say by email and by letters to the editor etc – only people power wins today particularly since all the pollies are in election mode – only 12 months to go.

  10. 0
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    More priority is required by politicians, to introduce policies that have a beneficial effect on the social fabric of our society. The gap between ‘Haves’ and ‘Have nots’ is increasing, more people are falling into poverty and social behaviour is getting worse (muggings, house break ins, theft, etc), as people become increasingly desperate. Thought should be given to ways to provide extra financial incentives to people so they can provide more income for themselves. This would reduce the burden on social services.

    • 0
      0

      yes there are many of pensioners who do try to help themselves by taking the Hand Made products & selling them at the markets. which gives them usually enough to buy more meterials to make more HomeMade products , as its the only Entertainment a lot of Old Aged Pensioners can Afford .& they seem to have made many friends at the Markets ,

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