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Protect the Age Pension

Last October, the Prime Minister sent a letter to all 1.7 million Australian pensioners suggesting that as a result of the May Budget, they had just enjoyed a pension increase.

Mr Abbott's letter deliberately obscured a sinister truth: budget changes to the way the age pension is indexed will actually significantly reduce the rate of pension increases over time — amounting to an estimated cut of $80 per week to pension payments over the next 10 years.

For thousands of older Australians already living below the poverty line, the magnitude of these cuts is untenable, and risks creating an aged poor cohort.

Will you hold Mr Abbott to his promise on the eve of the 2013 election that there would be "no changes to pensions" by signing onto the campaign now?
The Abbott Budget proposed two main changes to the age pension that will adversely impact the livelihoods of older Australians:
  • The indexation of pensions would be changed from using the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI), or the male average weekly earnings, as a benchmark to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This seemingly innocuous change is anything but, with the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) estimating this will mean a loss of $80 per week over the next 10 years. For those Full Age Pensioners already living below the poverty line, this is untenable.
  • The age at which the age pension could be collected would rise from 67 to 70 – whether work is available or not. This change also places a disproportionate burden on those who work in manual labour industries.
Additional reductions in seniors benefits brought down in this Budget include axing of the Seniors Supplement, and reduction of the deeming rate thresholds, further diminishing household income for seniors and veterans.
Here is the full text of Abbott's letter, sent to Australia's 1.7 million pensioners in October 2014, at the cost of $1.2 million:

A MESSAGE TO AUSTRALIA'S AGE PENSIONERS

In recent weeks, you will have noticed an increase in your pension.

This increase will help you keep up with the cost of living increases.

For single maximum rate pensioners, the pension will increase by $11.50 a fortnight. For pensioner couples on a maximum rate, it means an additional $17.40 a fortnight.

This is the increase for people on the maximum rate and the exact change in your own pension payment will depend on your individual circumstances.

This increase in the pension comes on top of the benefit you will receive from scrapping the Carbon Tax.

Not only are power costs falling because of the repeal of the Carbon Tax, but you will continue to keep the fortnightly Energy Supplement that was provided as compensation to help cover the costs of the Carbon Tax.

[This is not a gift from the Abbott Government. It is a regular, expected, indexed increase in order to keep the Age Pension linked to increases in salaries and wages in the general population.]

That means the Energy Supplement is now real cost of living relief, not just compensation.

Furthermore, the Pension Supplement will remain and will continue to be indexed.

There have been claims that the Government is cutting pensions. This is not true.

There are no cuts to pensions.

I want to reassure you that the pension will continue to rise in March and September every year.

[Of course it will –this is legislated and has been happening for decades - but it will increase by a LOWER amount if the Abbott Government's Budget 2014 changes to pension indexation get through the Senate]

In coming years, the numbers of people on pensions will increase as more people retire. Australians are living longer and healthier lives, so the Government is determined to ensure that our pension system is sustainable over the long term.

[So why does the Abbott Government refuse to address the over-generous subsidies on superannuation benefitting the top 20 percent rather than cutting the Age Pension?]

It is one of the reasons why the Government is taking steps to bring the Budget back under control.

If you need more information on pension rates and thresholds, please visit humanservices.gov.au.
GetUp and YourLifeChoices are partnering on this campaign in our hope to stop the Abbott Government's cruel attacks on older Australians, which do not recognise their valuable contribution to our country.

As the the largest online digital community for Australians both in and planning retirement, YourLifeChoices brings over a decade of experience advocating for measures to ensure a better quality of life for older Australians and simplify relevant retirement information and resources. GetUp, as Australia's largest online community fighting for progressive change, has been a central player pushing back against the Abbott Government's brutal budget.

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We call on the Government to abandon changes to the age pension, to ensure a quality standard of living for older Australians.




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