Seniors to quiz local candidates at Hobart election forum


National Seniors Australia will host a forum in Hobart next week where mature-age voters can quiz candidates ahead of the federal election expected in May.

National Seniors’ Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said the event, to be held on Monday 25 March, at the Royal Yacht Club at Sandy Bay, would provide a great opportunity for seniors to find out if the candidates backed policies that would benefit them.

The forum was the first of a number expected to be held by National Seniors branches around Australia in the lead-up to the federal poll.

Mr Henschke said the advocacy group for older Australians believed seniors could make a difference to the outcomes of the election.

“One in three voters – more than five million – are aged 60 and over,” Mr Henschke said. “That’s a big number and their issues cannot be taken lightly by any of the major parties.

“National Seniors is fighting for a better deal for all older Australians. We’re calling on all political parties to adopt policies that address key areas of concern, including pension poverty, health costs, aged care and retirement incomes.”

Three candidates would address the forum and take questions from the floor. They included:

  • Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health and ALP Member for Franklin Julie Collins
  • Andrew Wilkie, Independent Member for Denison
  • Dean Young, Liberal candidate for Franklin.

A response from the Australian Greens was still awaited.

Mr Henschke said National Seniors was calling for an Independent Age Pension Tribunal to take the politics out of the pension, and for increased financial assistance for older people to access the rental market, the NBN and dental care.

It was also calling for spiralling out-of-pocket health care costs to be curtailed through greater transparency of specialist fees and by limiting increases to private health insurance premiums.

National Seniors was seeking swift action to address the crisis in aged care by tripling level 3 and 4 home care packages to eliminate waiting lists, mandating publication of staffing levels in residential care, and making dementia training mandatory for all people in direct aged care roles.

“We want to see a stronger retirement income system that encourages people to save and be self-reliant,” Mr Henschke said.

“We are calling on all parties and candidates to reject moves to strip franking credit refunds, commit to reducing the taper rate from $3 to $2 and support a scheme to enable low-wealth downsizers to put excess home sale proceeds (up to $250,000) into superannuation without affecting their pension.

“We’re also calling for the reintroduction of the indexation of the Energy Supplement, improvements to Centrelink waiting and processing times, and a stronger commitment to combating financial elder abuse.”

National Seniors Federal Election 2019 policy priorities can be found here.

HOBART FORUM DETAILS (Open to media)

When:  Monday 25 March 2019

Time:      10am to Noon (registrations open from 9.45am)

Where:   Bruny Room, Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, Marieville Esplanade, Sandy Bay

National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke and Tasmanian Policy Advisory Group chair Mary Parsissons are available for comment.

Media contact: Lynda Schekoske 07 3233 9134 or 0488 047 380.


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