Coalition’s plan for older voters

Almost four in 10 of YourLifeChoices members feel overlooked by the major parties, according to our Friday Flash Poll: Who do you trust?

With the number of older voters steadily increasing year by year – 300,000 more voters aged 70 and over enrolled to vote than there were for the 2016 election – surely the major parties would focus on attracting votes from this cohort?

YourLifeChoices has been monitoring the issues that matter most to over 55s. From our own research through surveys and polling, we know the top five issues of concern include the need to:

  • increase the base rate of the Age Pension; consider a universal Age Pension
  • address climate change
  • gain better access to medicines and diagnostics, universal dental care and improved private health insurance subsidies
  • develop incentives to work past the Age Pension age without being financially penalised in terms of pension entitlements
  • gain easier access to Centrelink resources and have quicker responses.

We presented these findings to the three major parties – the Greens, Liberals and Labor – for comment. Today, we hear from the Coalition …

•••

Increase the base rate of the Age Pension; consider a universal Age Pension
Since the Coalition was elected, pensions have increased by $117.80 per fortnight for singles and by $177.40 per fortnight for couples combined.

The Coalition also opened up the Pension Loans Scheme to all older Australians with securable real estate owned in Australia, including full rate pensioners of Age Pension age and self-funded retirees, so a pensioner couple on maximum rate can boost their retirement income by up to $18,150.60, without impacting on their eligibility for the pension or other benefits.

The Morrison Government has provided $365 million to make a one-off Energy Assistance Payment of $75 for singles and $62.50 for each eligible member of a couple to around five million income support recipients, including those on the Age Pension.

Address climate change
Climate change is a global issue that requires a global solution. The Morrison Government is committed to Australia playing its part in that global solution to reduce emissions. Under the Morrison Government, Australia’s emissions are currently at their lowest level on a per capita and GDP basis in 28 years. Australia contributes to just over one per cent of global emissions.

The Morrison Government’s 2030 target to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels is responsible and achievable. This target will see a reduction in emissions per person halve by 2030. This is one of the strongest efforts among G20 countries.

You can read more about the Morrison Government’s plan for the environment here: https://www.liberal.org.au/our-plan/environment

Healthcare: better access to medicines and diagnostics, universal dental care, and improved private health insurance subsidies
The Morrison Government’s Long-Term National Health Plan is providing Australians with access to quality medical care, record hospital funding, affordable life-saving medicines and breakthrough research for new drugs and treatments.

Our goal is to make our health system even stronger and to ensure it is the best in the world.

By keeping our economy strong we will ensure the essential health services that Australians rely on, such as Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Medicare funding is at record levels. Almost nine out of 10 Australians who visit the doctor have no out-of-pocket costs with GP bulk-billing rates at a record 86 per cent, up from 82 per cent under Labor.

We are keeping the cost of healthcare down by increasing funding for diagnostic services such as MRIs and PET scans to detect breast cancer.

In partnership with GPs, we will improve options for more flexible care to meet the needs of patients and to keep them healthy and out of hospital with a $1.6 billion package to strengthen primary care.

Australians have access to the latest medicines through the PBS – with reduced costs on more than 2000 new and amended medicines listings since 2013, thanks to an investment of $10.6 billion. These medicines are saving and changing lives.

Record funding will be provided for public hospitals with an additional $31 billion from 2020–2021 to 2024–2025 to employ more nurses, doctors and specialists, delivering – in partnership with the states and territories – more surgeries and medical services.

You can read more about the Morrison Government’s plan for health here: https://www.liberal.org.au/our-plan/health and here: https://www.liberal.org.au/our-plan-strengthening-australias-world-class-health-system

More incentive to work past the Age Pension age without being financially penalised in terms of pension entitlements.
The Coalition extended and expanded the Pension Work Bonus from 1 July 2019 to:

  • include self-employed pensioners; and
  • increase the Bonus from $250 to $300 per fortnight, with the maximum accrual increasing from $6500 to $7800.

The Work Bonus increases the amount an eligible pensioner can earn from employment before it affects their pension rate.

You can read more about the Morrison Government’s plan to support retirees here: https://www.liberal.org.au/our-plan-support-retirees

Easier access to Centrelink resources and quicker responses
The Department of Human Services’ (the Department) Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation Programme is changing the way the Government delivers welfare payments now and into the future. Improving older Australians’ experiences with the Department is a top priority.

The Department will continue to invest in new technology to deliver improved Centrelink and Medicare services for all Australians.

The Government is committed to making it easier for all Australians to access Centrelink services, and in 2018–2019 provided $50 million to the Department to target call wait times and improve service delivery.

Wait times on the Department’s phone lines are being reduced as a result of our investment in an additional 2,750 call centre workers – who are now on board answering calls and the results are speaking for themselves.

To read about our plan for a stronger economy and a more secure Australia, visit: https://www.liberal.org.au/our-plan

What do you think of these responses? Do they address your concerns? Do you have any other questions for the Coalition? Let us know in the comments section below.

Related articles:
Greens want Age Pension review
The most important election issue
Voters point out system’s flaws

Written by Leon Della Bosca

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