Pensioners deserve more than one-off payment

By Ian Henschke, National Seniors Chief Advocate

According a report in the Australian Financial Review today the Morrison government is considering cash handouts to age pensioners and lower income families.

The article by John Kehoe describes the plan as “desperate pre-election move to lift its dwindling support among voters”.

He revealed the government has asked senior advisers to develop two potential one-off payments, according to uncontrolled leaks from Canberra.

As soon as the news report came out, various media outlets rang asking if this “cash splash” would be enough to “buy” the votes of pensioners. In radio interviews from coast to coast we made it clear that National Seniors believes a one-off payment doesn’t fix the systemic problem of pension poverty.

Of course, any help would be a good start to recognising the needs of pensioners. This cash will help those in desperate need and we’re sure they will welcome it. But we urge all parties to go further and address the underlying issues.

We have been campaigning for the government to Fix Pension Poverty for the past year and will continue to do so in the run-up to the election. National Seniors has partnered with the Benevolent Society to fight for a fair go for people on the aged pension because it simply doesn’t provide enough for many older Australians.

More than half a million people rely on the pension as their sole source of income. We know those in this situation are struggling. The cost of essentials, such as health, housing, transport and energy have increased far quicker than non-essentials.

Older renters are particularly hard hit. More than a quarter of a million pensioners don’t own their own home. Single renters, particularly women, are doing it tough. They often have less savings and superannuation because they were out of the paid workforce looking after children and families.

We’ve called on the government to:

  • establish an independent tribunal to assess the base rate of the pension and determine the best mechanism for annual review
  • increase the maximum rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance to reduce the gap between age pensioners who are home owners and those who are renters
  • establish a round table to review services provided to age pensioners.

As part of the campaign, we’ve been visiting our branches with the Benevolent Society and lobbying parliamentarians.

If fixing pension poverty is important to you, sign up to the campaign to get regular updates.

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