Questions from the floor - Newstart and deeming rates


In Questions from the floor, we respond to your questions about our advocacy campaigns and the key issues impacting older Australians. This week, we hear from National Seniors Australia member, Mark.

Why doesn't Ian Henschke of National Seniors seek a commitment from politicians to increase the Newstart for everyone and decrease the deeming rates prior to elections? My vote would obviously go to the politicians supporting both of these issues - Mark


Thanks for your question, Mark.

National Seniors Australia has consistently advocated for a lowering of the deeming rate for many years. Like most things, timing is everything.

When the RBA rate dropped after the election (and again shortly after), this was the straw that broke the camel's back. 

It reached a point where we could show a clear and consistent failing by the government on this issue. Interestingly, the RBA chose not to make any decision about dropping official interest rates during the election to avoid it being politicised – had they done so, we would have been able to make this into an election issue.

In terms of Newstart, National Seniors Australia did make something of this prior to the election.

Along with the Benevolent Society and Council of the Ageing, we put out a joint media release calling for a raise in the Newstart rate. Unfortunately, timing did not appear to be on our side and the issue did not get the same level of attention as it did recently when we talked about Newstart on the back of the deeming campaign and our call for an independent tribunal to set government payments.

As a not for profit, advocacy organisation, we are competing against others for media attention. As strange as it sounds, we are also competing with ourselves for attention in the media. 

We represent the interests of all older Australians. This means we advocate on a broad range of issues. Sometimes, we have to make decisions about which of these issues we think will receive the most attention and lead to the most action.

There is no simple formula for this but our growing list of advocacy wins show that we are making good progress.

And we will continue to demand that politicians from all sides act in the best interests of older Australians. After all, we believe in policies, not politics.

Thanks again for your question and for your support of National Seniors Australia.

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