Speaking after a seniors forum held on Tuesday at Hamilton in Victoria, the Shadow Minister for Seniors, Senator Bronwyn Bishop, said she was determined to remove the public’s perception that the ageing population is to blame for the nation’s rising health bill as they contributed to only 20% of the increase. Senator Bishop pointed to the contributions which have been made by this age group to make our country what it is today. She wants to see greater public appreciation of their achievements and wishes to dispel the view of seniors being a burden on our system.
With forty per cent of Australian voters over the age of 50, Senator Bishop said that this age group is a “vital voice” that “no government can afford to ignore”. Senator Bishop also raised the issue of age discrimination and said she was on a mission to make it as unacceptable to be ageist, as it is unacceptable to be sexist.
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Senator Bronwyn Bishop made several valid points at her recent seniors forum meeting. The age group now classified as seniors helped build this country and made it what it is today. So with forty per cent of Australian voters aged over 50, why do their voices so often fall on deaf ears?
One answer is that the over 50 age group is under represented in Australia. The policies we see coming out of the two main parties are targeted towards families while the Greens and, to a lesser extent, the Sex Party have policies which appeal to the younger voter, leaving no party representing the interests of the older voter.
These forty per cent of voters defended our country in World War II, started businesses and families and built our country to be a world leader in medical research, mining and technology. Yet, despite these and many other contributions, the general public and the current governmental system views the over 50 age group as past their expiry date. Instead of investing in the now so that this age group can enjoy the final decades, years, months of their lives, governments are investing in facilities around the age group dying with the main wins from the last budget revolving around improvements in aged care.
There needs to be a greater investment by the State and Federal governments into the ageing population of Australia through increased pensions as single age pensioners are currently living on $85 per fortnight below the poverty line. Governments also need to step up to the plate on dentistry and provide greater access to cut-price appointments with shorter waiting lists.
Are Australia’s seniors given a fair go? Would a ‘grey party’ be the answer to the representation problems or does there need to be one party which represents every demographic equally?