Starter’s gun fired: National Seniors at election policy forefront

By Ian Henschke

From phoney election to hyper election in just a few short hours! It’s official - we’re off to the polls on 18 May.

Just as with the Budget, National Seniors is taking your policies and what you want to all parties and candidates. They'll be opening letters and emails from National Seniors telling them what they need to do to get the support of one third of the electorate – Australia’s seniors.

We are reminding them that there are 5 million voters over 60. 

That's 1 in 3 voters.

The Budget was basically a big bucket of tax cuts looking for votes and Bill Shorten’s Budget reply was a bucket of big health care promises also looking for votes.

Both largely forgot or ignored the key issues we’ve listed as our priorities.

"Fixing pension poverty and the ever growing home care wait list are clearly of concern to all Australians but they barely rated a mention."

The Treasurer has offered single pensioners $75 and couples $125 as a one off to help with power bills. But it’s not addressing the ongoing issues. We’re still calling on both sides to reinstate the indexation of the Energy Supplement for age pensioners.

We welcomed the Opposition leader’s emphasis on a fair go in his budget reply and echoed Gough Whitlam with his opening “Women and men of Australia.” He promised to train more workers in aged care and disability. We’ve called on all aged care staff to have basic dementia training.

He spoke of the need to cut out-of-pocket health costs particularly for those dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

"This issue of being hit with high out-of-pocket costs is something you told us about in our 2017 advocacy survey. That information has informed our submissions to both the Government and the Opposition for the past two budgets."

So, it was pleasing to see the Government announce the publishing of specialists’ fees to try and reign them in, and also the Opposition’s promise to support cancer patients .

I was in Canberra this week and launched our policies on Sky News. The appearance was due at 10am yesterday. I was about to be interviewed by Tom Connell but that was pushed backed for a live cross to the Opposition leader.

I watched his ‘doorstep’ press conference in Ballina. It was outside the local hospital and in a marginal seat. It’s a seat we’ve also been targeting.

Our policy is calling on the limiting of private health premium increases to no more than CPI until reforms to the system have been adopted. It's worth noting the Opposition has promised no increase above the CPI for the first two years if it wins the election. 

You told us health costs were at the top of your list of concerns and it’s good they are getting attention from all sides of politics.

There are many other issues affecting older Australians we need raised in profile as well. We’re pushing for an increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance for those on a pension and Newstart.

We also want the rate of Newstart raised. There are more than 170,000 older Australians between 55 and 64 struggling on around $14,000 a year. We live in a wealthy country with far too many people living in poverty.

All the information about our election policies can be found here.

You can also catch up with our latest policy efforts via the April edition of PAM here

Only five more weeks to go, folks. Enjoy!

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