Pension petition victory

The back down on changes to indexation of the Age Pension is a victory.

Pension petition victory

The back down by the Federal Government on changes to indexation of the Age Pension is a victory for commonsense – and our combined efforts to fight this draconian policy.

Originally introduced in the Abbott Government’s first budget in 2014, the proposed change in indexation would have ultimately meant a loss of $80 per week within a 10-year period. On behalf of YourLifeChoices 125,000 members, our objections to this policy were threefold:

  • it hit the most vulnerable older Australians the hardest
  • it was a direct contradiction of the pre-election promise by the Prime Minister himself – no cuts to pensions
  • it was unnecessary when overly generous tax concessions on superannuation mean the wealthiest are financially supported in retirement more than the poorest.


So we partnered with online activist organisation GetUp! to create a petition calling for this policy to be dropped.

And as announced by the Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison last week, it has been.

With more than 48,000 signatories to our joint campaign, we claim this a success in advocacy on behalf of older Australians who are struggling to maintain a reasonable standard of living in retirement – and don’t wish to be an unfair target because of a so-called budget emergency.

YourLifeChoices was just one of a group of concerned organisations, including GetUp!, the Australian Council of Social Services, the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association and COTA Australia, which campaigned against these pension cuts. So we congratulate all involved for highlighting the inequitable basis of these cuts and the need to take a stand on behalf of vulnerable older Australians.

Tomorrow Debbie and Leon will join the 2015/16 Budget lock up, so keep an eye on your inbox at 10pm for a tailored account of what this year’s budget will mean for your retirement.





    COMMENTS

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    Crazy Horse
    11th May 2015
    10:31am
    Thank you Life Choices, GetUp together with the ALP, Greens and cross bench Senators for stopping this nasty unfair incompetent government from the worst of it's excesses.
    Dotty
    11th May 2015
    10:46am
    I agree totally ! I am dependent solely on the aged pension so had I lost anything from it I would have been completely broke ! As I have no savings nor asserts to say I can rely if I lost any of my pension or little bit of extra when the inflation figures are give twice a year !
    Dotty
    andromeda143
    11th May 2015
    10:54am
    I don't call this a victory when my wife and I will still lose $40 per fortnight from our pension and doubtless many others will lose even more. It is a breaking of the social contract under which we worked and paid taxes for 50 years. We are not millionaires. We have very little savings and our total assets (excluding family home) are less than $500000. Abbott and Morrison are the enemy of pensioners and all retirees should realise this. Throw them out at the ballot box. They are liars and do not deserve to govern.
    KSS
    11th May 2015
    12:34pm
    Like Supernan and Not Amused below, I also don't understand how you would be worse off under these new proposals. As I understand it, couples with their own home can have up to $850,000 in assets before any changes come into play. If your assets are in the region of $500,000 then that is less even than the single person home owner asset allowance so I wouldn't have thought there would be any changes to your current arrangements.
    Anonymous
    11th May 2015
    1:30pm
    Under the new proposals, we - as now ''self-funded wealthy retirees'' will be approx $9000 a year worse off than most pensioners. This Government is attacking those who worked hard, struggled and saved to accrue a modest nest-egg. Their new proposals are far more unfair than the ones they just scrapped, victimizing one small group without any consideration of the true impact of doing so and without any attention to the real areas of budget waste and the obscene over-indulgence of the very wealthy through unfair superannuation tax concessions, negative gearing, etc. (none of which they are prepared to address).
    KSS
    11th May 2015
    2:15pm
    yes Rainey, As I have said before, the thresholds have been set too low. I understand that to someone with nothing $550,000/$830,000 looks like a lot but accumulated over a working life is not much at all. Nor is the amount of income those amounts will generate in the current climate. Particularly when put in context where the 'experts' state you need $1m+ in super for a modest retirement especially since it is likely to have to fund another 30 years of living expenses.

    What is clear is that we now have a definition of 'rich'. Its anyone who owns their own home (regardless of size or worth) and either $550,000 (singles) or $850,000 (couples) in other assets -income generating or not.
    andromeda143
    11th May 2015
    11:00pm
    With the new proposals, if you have assets of 500000 (excluding the family home) your pension is decreased from about $490 per person per fortnight (for a couple) to about $460 per person per fortnight. The lower threshold is increased but the taper reduction rate is being doubled
    Supernan
    11th May 2015
    11:53am
    Thank you to all those who help campaign. Since we retired 2 years ago, feel like I've had to campaign non-stop - instead of relaxing after a life time of hard work. First it was against including the family home as an asset. Next was Medicare co-payment. Then the changes to how Pension increases were worked out.

    At least all the hard work paid off but my health has suffered. We should not have to fight for support after a life time of paying Taxes, when the rich get so many hand outs, when super laws are so in favour of high income earners & when we pay millions to Companies who pollute our land & air.

    Not sure what to make of the cuts to asset values. Cut off looks like being assets of over $850,000 for homeowning couples. So not sure why couple with $500,000 asset commenting below will be affected. Guess will do as always, read the policy & campaign if needed !
    Not Amused
    11th May 2015
    12:18pm
    I'm also not sure why a couple with $500,000 assets excluding family home will be worse off. If the assets earn income, they will still get their part-pension. The people I feel sorry for are those who went without, saved every cent and accumulated say $1.1M savings, believing they would be supporting themselves. My calculations, correct or not, suggest that at today's 3% bank interest, they would be living on $33,000 per annum, which in Centrelink terms would be defined as a "low income" anyway. A "low income" would allow them to health card and other concessions, but no part-pension. It's all getting too complicated. Either we want a society where people work hard and reap the benefits, or we want a society where the entitlement mentality rules, and all of us are stripped of our incentive to achieve. The harder people work, the luckier they get and they should not be pilloried and called "wealthy" because they were sensible with their choices.
    KSS
    11th May 2015
    12:35pm
    Not Amused, I agree with you. I think the ceiling has been set too low although I don't disagree with the premise of the policy.
    LiveItUp
    11th May 2015
    12:39pm
    It doesn't go far enough as the family house should be included in the assets test as present system is so inequitable.
    TREBOR
    11th May 2015
    12:56pm
    Not Amused - it's not fair to divide between 'hard workers' and 'leaners' and discuss 'entitlement mentality' etc- when the outcome in regard to interest rates is what is creating the problem for those with assets. No 'entitlement mentality' person caused that. And never forget that life is not always a bowl of cherries for the many - especially over the past thirty five years in Oz.

    You can only do the best you can against the opposition of parties political here.
    Anonymous
    11th May 2015
    1:39pm
    The proposal to lower the assets limit is cruel and unfair in the extreme and will leave many who slaved hard and enjoyed virtually no benefits or concessions now worse off than pensioners, unless they spend their savings - which totally defeats the objective because then they'll be back on the pension again and the Government will save nothing. Those who went without a lot in earlier years to save a little have suffered by far the biggest losses in recent years. It matters not what the cause, Trebor. The Government doesn't discriminate against the pensioner who gambled or had lavish holidays. Why should it discriminate against the battler who is hurt by interest rate falls? Why does one group have to carry the burden for the entire nation? This revised assets test victimizes a small group who did nothing but what they were urged by successive governments and advisers to do - work hard and save for old age. Many of them are NOT wealthy and have never been. They were frugal. And now they are struggling to maintain a decent standard of living, and they will be forced to spend their savings just to maintain a basic standard of living, while multi-millionaires reap huge tax concessions and multi-nationals dodge tax and people who lived the high life in youth continue to enjoy more and more generous handouts.

    And I'm sick of hearing ''pensions shouldn't enable someone to leave money to their kids''. Why? They enable people to pump money through poker machines and bet on racehorses and drink and have lavish holidays, and then claim benefits to fund the old age they SHOULD have saved for. If others choose to be frugal so they can help their offspring, or enjoy a better life in old age, why is that a less valid choice? Why should they be punished while the spendthrifts are rewarded?

    I hope everyone who is cheering here will join the protest against the grossly unfair new assets test and demand a proper review of the entire retirement funding system - one that maintains incentives, rewards hard work and planning fairly, provides decently for the genuinely needy, and doesn't punish a small group who are NOT wealthy, but have struggled and saved to go as close as they were able to providing for themselves in old age.
    KSS
    11th May 2015
    2:17pm
    Rainey I agree people should not be punished for saving to provide for their old age. But isn't that exactly what they should be spending their money on? Not saving it for the kids when they are gone and claiming the pension in the meantime.
    TREBOR
    11th May 2015
    3:51pm
    Rainey - I have no argument with your point...and I advocate that no self-funded should fall below the minimum of pension - as could happen with very low interest rates, and as some have pointed out. It is ludicrous for government to arbitrarily apply a standard that says a self-funded always has to stand alone, and can't get a top-up when their income falls below pension.

    Perhaps someone could clarify if that is what actually happens.

    I also have stated that the assets deeming is too low. It's hard to discuss 'discrimination' when that is a very subjective issue and often what happens is not what people want - they just happen to fall into that category. Not all spent their money on trips and such you know. Some battled to stay afloat in a deteriorating economic (and often social) climate - there are 800,000 out there right now doing that daily - they're called the unemployed - and add in the times 2 at least under-employed.
    LiveItUp
    11th May 2015
    12:15pm
    I thought it was a good idea indexing the pension to the CPI as what happens if wages fall?

    I also supported the GP co-payment as it would have made it at lot easier to see a doctor.

    Let's hope the government and opposition does a turn around on these.
    TREBOR
    11th May 2015
    12:59pm
    One would expect that if wages fall so will prices.. but we know that will never happen. I've long discussed the reality that costs of wages follow costs of living - and without addressing both a disaster of major proportions will occur, in fact is already occurring. the current drive to lower wages will mean a further exacerbation of the already massive artificially created divides in this country - and the end result is incalculable.
    Anonymous
    11th May 2015
    1:42pm
    Bonny, the CPI has NOTHING WHATEVER TO DO with cost of living increases for low income earners. That's why there's a separate pensioners' and beneficiaries cost of living index. And the existing indexation system is linked to that separate index as well as considering wage changes. The existing system is fair. Indexing to CPI is not and would result in massive inequity if the price of luxuries continues to fall and the price of necessities continues to rise.
    eggles01
    11th May 2015
    2:53pm
    G'day Bonny,the way it was the pension increase was worked out by the higher of the cpi OR 27.7 % of the MALE TOTAL AVERAGE WEEKLY EARNINGS,the government last year in their budget removed the safety backup by removing the MTAWE which left us to the CPI only,you must remember that there are at times there are increases in the wage area that outflanks the cpi and when that happens we once again fall back into below the poverty line,if anybody is interested GOOGLE search MTAWE on the net there is a fair bit of information in that search area
    LiveItUp
    11th May 2015
    4:16pm
    Wages have fallen in the US and Europe so I guess it OK for your pension to fall in line with wages. I know which one I would prefer myself.
    Sum1
    11th May 2015
    4:35pm
    There is a huge budget blowout, legacy of an incompetent Labor Gov, one they don't acknowledge obviously ...as it was their doing. The Abbott Gov sensibly is trying to address this disaster before we go into receivership. However we seem to have become ungovernable as everyone howls their discontent over any small proposals.
    GP co- payment of a mere $7. outrage.
    Increase fees for university students. outrage. Many go O/s and yes tax payers get the Bill.
    Pensioners linked to MTAWE and not CPI. outrage.
    Reduce the Super limit to $823000 to obtain part pension, ourtrage.
    Lucky we still have one trump card yet to play ... Bull Shorten...Yes..he is the battler who will weave his magic and there will be calm in the world again.
    LiveItUp
    11th May 2015
    6:38pm
    Agree with everything except Bill Shorten. I don't think the government has gone far enough with reigning in the welfare budget especially with pensioners. It would not matter how much most of the pensioners got they would still want more. The four of us live on about half the pension so I find that it is too generous. I know of people who don't really need the pension but take it anyway because they can.

    I think all people should pay something to see a doctor and for all those tests the doctors order as well.

    I don't agree with Aussie student's paying fees especially TAFE as these people will pay it back in future taxes as most earn more than if they hadn't done to study.
    Carol
    11th May 2015
    1:13pm
    The fact they are going to stop the part pensioners payments if say they have scrimped and saved to have 1 million in Super and say don't own a house. But if a person has a 1 million dollar house and never put money into Super will have a full pension for the rest of their lives.
    Anonymous
    11th May 2015
    1:44pm
    Yep, and they'll pay bigger pensions to people who had big incomes but spent freely on extravagant holidays and a lavish lifestyle, or gave money to their kids before turning 60, but they'll punish the honest, hard-working savers who scrimped and saved to accrue $850,000 and who will now be far worse off than pensioners.
    KSS
    11th May 2015
    3:15pm
    Rainey I agree with the current interest rates those with savings of $850,000 will generate less income than someone on the full pension. However, they can make up the difference from the capital. However, this does mean they will probably run out of savings faster than would have done and then they will have to rely on the pension. That's why I think the ceilings are too low.
    TREBOR
    11th May 2015
    3:54pm
    Hmm - make up the difference from capital. Rather defeats the idea of putting it away so as to not be a 'burden' via pension Right. The rule is NEVER trust government to remain on the straight and narrow when it comes to money.

    11th May 2015
    1:52pm
    There has NOT been a victory yet. We've sacrificed one unfair proposal for an equally unfair and damaging proposal that victimizes a different (and probably smaller) group of people and presents a different set of challenges to the budget - but does nothing to address the gross inequity in the system or the massive budget deficit. It just attacks innocent, hard-working savers who are NOT wealthy and will now, in many cases, be far worse off than pensioners. It's wrong, and I hope Getup, the ALP, the Greens and the cross-bench Senators will oppose this as strongly as they've opposed all the other nasty, unfair proposals put forward by this incompetent Government.
    TREBOR
    11th May 2015
    3:56pm
    Yes - that is the point. The big problem I see with the proposals put forward by Morrison is that he always includes a bunch of bad stuff in with some good and says - take it or leave it. No room for discussion - no room for negotiation - no room for sense to prevail when he is wrong.

    It's the same with the childcare issue - some good with a bunch of bad and the demand to take it or leave it.

    Great style there... and some want this man to be the next PM.... Jesus weeps.
    Sum1
    11th May 2015
    4:06pm
    Jesus may well weep with Scott Morrison but would surely become hysterical with Bull Shorton.
    Chris B T
    11th May 2015
    2:16pm
    The Gov' not including the family home in asset tests, but some on this post clearly want it included. Some suggestions are around $500k in past posts.
    To make it fair on everybody make it on the lowest value home in Australia so no one can complain on being victimized. The amount over in asset tests, I certainly wouldn't like it I'm sure the rest of you wouldn't as well. Renters get a rental subsidy I don't hear any complaints about that. Just home owners, home values.
    KSS
    11th May 2015
    3:23pm
    Chris making the value of the home based on the lowest home value in Australia is patently unfair. If the home were to be included in the assets test (which it is not) then I think it should be based on the size of the property. So for example why does a single person or a couple need to be living in say a 5 bedroom house when obviously a one or two bedroom would suffice? Making people downsize to release the value in their property is a fairer way of doing things. Why make all the sacrifices to own your own home for security in your later years just to leave it to the kids? No use it for financing your old age whilst still securing a home. After all value is all relative. If you live in Sydney you automatically start at a higher value than say the outskirts of Hobart for a similar style of housing. Putting a single dollar value on the housing threshold is not fair at all. But making people downsize to a more manageable form of accommodation whilst releasing the funds is a better option.
    Chris B T
    12th May 2015
    1:48pm
    Home values should never be part of asset test which it is not at the moment. My point is there would not be a fair system of valuing as a group would always felt victimized.
    Sydney, what part North Shore, Mosman, Spitt, Manly, Eastern Suburbs, Rose bay,
    Redfern, Waterloo, Mt Druit, Cambelltown, Blacktown, St Geroge, Sutherland Shire and hundred of other suburbs have extreme market value of studio to mansions
    Thats why I said The Lowest Value it would be extreme beyound belief the variants in property and values. Thats just Sydney.
    Chris B T
    12th May 2015
    2:19pm
    PS
    The other coment I made about Renters Still stands.
    (Renters get a rental subsidy I don't hear any complaints about that. Just home owners, home values.)
    Not Amused
    12th May 2015
    2:31pm
    The government make people downsize their homes? Do you know how much it costs to sell, buy and move house? At the most vulnerable time in people's lives, the best we can come up with is "make them downsize"? What if they can't find a home of equivalent comfort, located in a familiar area, near their families, near the services they might be used to? What if a son or daughter gets sick and needs to spend time in the family home with parent/s? No room at the inn? Send them to taxpayer funded care? The way this debate is going, no-one will even want to go without to pay off a home. Anyone who hasn't done it will never know how hard it is to pull together the payments with the costs of raising a family. There's plenty of people living in government-subsidised houses/flats who aren't being treated like home-owning pariahs. It's all sounding like those who paid off their houses, went without instant luxuries like holidays, flash cars, eating out etc. are being lined up as targets. Reminds me of Russia where socialist/communist though governments made everyone equal until everyone was equally poor. Even the Russians woke up and did a bit of a U-turn in a direction that no longer punishes the ideal of success and prosperity, most are still living miserable lives. In 20 years+ everyone who has worked for their lifetime should be self-funded from their super contributions anyway. If people can't leave the fruits of their labour to their kids, I doubt they will bother labouring.
    Ira
    11th May 2015
    2:22pm
    I totally agree with the comments here. This government has put in policies that are aimed at supporting the wealthiest in this country.

    Giving tax breaks to the rich is like giving them the dole. They do not need or deserve it.

    I will be happy to join a party that represents pensioners and the middle class. I do not see one at the moment.

    It is time to start a "Gray Panther" movement/party.
    TREBOR
    11th May 2015
    5:14pm
    Once again - it depends on the assets under discussion... do they earn you income or not is my yardstick.

    Why should one work for years and then have too much assets by owning a caravan, boat etc...? That's what would happen if the family home were included.

    So - is the question simply whether or not the peasantry have any right to earn and prosper.. or are they just vassals of the state and get to be happy with what they get?
    LiveItUp
    11th May 2015
    6:59pm
    Your house earns you money as it stops you paying rent. Your caravan earns you money as it's saves you paying for expensive accommodation. Your boat allows you to catch fish so that helps with you income too. All are therefore assets.

    The house should be included in the assets test as it is no different than a car, boat or caravan.
    Not Amused
    12th May 2015
    3:08pm
    Bonny, owning a house towards the end of one's life makes the owner an asset to taxpayers who in turn are not not required to heavily subsidise a non-home owner's accommodation where there is no bill for insurance, rates and general maintenance. Most retired home owners can't even afford a gardener and that can be the tipping point for them moving into a retirement village. Do you advocate that people who sell their home to move into a retirement village should be asked to sell that roof over their head? Come on. This all sounds like green-eyed monster waffle.
    Circum
    11th May 2015
    7:15pm
    Totally agree with you Rainey.The proposed lower asset limits are unfair and reflect the governments dishonesty with the electorate.Had I known these new rules 10 years ago,I would have been eating steak instead of mince.And might have taken that overseas trip or two.I certainly would not have saved as hard as I did if I knew I was going to get a kick in the guts.ET TU ABBOTT.
    The unintended message from the government is..Do not save too much.spend it...

    Will the new thresholds be indexed? Or will it be like tax bracket creep and suck in new retirees?Many young people might think."The change wont affect me as I"ll never have $830000".Saving $20 a day for 45 years at 5% will get you over $1200000.
    With superannuation savings growing,more and more people will no longer qualify for any pension let alone a full pension.The 327134 people negatively affected by the changes is just the starting point.
    This is a serious attack on Australian living standards.

    In hindsight Shortens idea of taxing income over $75000 was a much fairer proposal in attempting to reduce the budget deficit,Unfortunately Labour couldnt make a profit running a chook raffle and the Liberals lack vision and keep coming up with dumb ideas.
    KSS
    12th May 2015
    7:06am
    Circum, actually I agree that eventually there should be very few people drawing an aged pension. It is right and proper that more and more people will not qualify for a pension. That was the exact intention of bringing in compulsory super in 1993. And I support that. The only thing that is a concern about these new thresholds is they are set too low. In the current financial climate those levels will not generate an income equal to the full pension yet will lock people out of assistance should they need it, e.g. concessions on utility bills, rates, car registration, transport and not to forget the health card. This results in the 'asset holder' earning less than the full pension yet paying more for the same services. Using the capital to make up the difference is fair enough if short-sighted. The levels are so low that people will run out of funds faster generating even less income and eventually end up back on the pension anyway. That is an issue!
    dizey47
    11th May 2015
    7:43pm
    It's better news re the pension, but I was shocked to see on the news that the subsidy for personal & domestic care to help the sick & elderly stay in their own homes was quietly cut. A few years ago our government was telling us how good it was for the sick and elderly to be able to stay in their own home as long as possible and they were trying to help with that. Are they now trying to force us into nursing homes now so they can also force us to sell our family home to save them money. This is regardless of what is best for the people concerned. Very sneaky they way the government just sent out a letter (on Anzac Day, good timing) to the sick & elderly now getting this subsidised help, with no debate in Parliament or announcement to the general population. Very very low blow Mr Abbot, Mr Hockey and their caring Government
    bookwyrm
    14th May 2015
    12:26am
    My 82 year old mother gets an aged care package and so does my friend‘s mother in her late 70s with Parkinsons. Both are widows who own their own homes. Mum has an allocated pension. I hope none of this changerg will affect her. Her house value would be lucky to buy a studio flat in Sydney, and she worked till 73 to afford to amass enough super for her modest allocated pension.

    I detest this government.
    bookwyrm
    14th May 2015
    12:27am
    My 82 year old mother gets an aged care package and so does my friend‘s mother in her late 70s with Parkinsons. Both are widows who own their own homes. Mum has an allocated pension. I hope none of this changerg will affect her. Her house value would be lucky to buy a studio flat in Sydney, and she worked till 73 to afford to amass enough super for her modest allocated pension.

    I detest this government.
    bookwyrm
    13th May 2015
    11:58pm
    Congratulations! I‘m glad I did my tiny bit by signing the petition. United we stand, divided we fall!


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