May 18 federal election: Our policies up front

Fixing pensioner poverty and the aged care crisis, better dental care and eliminating chronic home care waiting lists are key initiatives older Australians are demanding of candidates this federal election.

National Seniors Australia has launched its Federal Election 2019 Policy Priorities of Older Australians, cautioning candidates that 30% of all voters were aged 60-plus and were demanding practical solutions to a range of issues.

This election is a national watershed opportunity to rectify years of policy neglect and stagnation on seniors’ health, wellbeing, finances and security. These were systemic issues all but forgotten in both the Federal Budget and Budget Reply last week.

Investment in future

These polices are a sensible investment in the health and safety of older Australians and would enable government to better manage public spending in the ballooning areas of health and aged care.

We are calling on all political parties to adopt our policies to lift age pensioners out of poverty, cut health costs, ensure older Australians receive the aged care they deserve, and end the erosion of retirement income.

The poor standard of living of many pensioners was a national disgrace requiring swift action by whichever party won government in the expected May election, to ensure older Australians in need were afforded a fair-go, respect and practical support.

Better dental care

Our policies address the essentials of life and top of the list is affordable dental care. Did you know that poor oral health is linked to chronic diseases, including stroke and heart disease, but is out of reach of many pensioners and those in aged care?

Along with a growing chorus of respected health professionals, National Seniors is demanding a funding boost for dental care. We want a scheme that provides an annual subsidy to help maintain dental health.

Fair pension setting

Taking politics out of the age pension was another key policy and National Seniors wants the establishment of an Age Pension Tribunal to independently set the age pension rate.

The tribunal would take responsibility for calculating a fair and adequate pension rate and any supplements based on need and circumstance.

This, along with cutting the age pension taper rate from $3 to $2, will help ensure a better standard of living for more Australians in retirement.

The current government’s lifting of the taper rate in January 2017 had a punitive impact on older Australians, discouraging them from saving for retirement, and must be reversed.

Better housing

Assisting pensioners to access housing and better connect to internet services were also important ways to alleviate pensioner poverty, because one helped provide a roof over their head and the other a window to the world.

The private rental market is out of reach for many older people can can be improved by lifting the maximum rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance. The full Federal Election 2019 Policy Priorities of Older Australians is available here

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