Michael O'Neill is the chief executive officer of National Seniors Association Australia.
Michael O'Neill is the chief executive officer of National Seniors Association Australia. Contributed

Seniors welcome stance to protect mid-to-low income retirees

OLDER Australians have welcomed Labor's announcement it will oppose the Coalition's $2.4billion cut to pensions announced in the 2015 budget.

"The changes as announced in the budget were poorly thought through, and, subsequently, unfair," according to National Seniors chief executive Michael O'Neill.

"The public talk was about wealthy retirees. But, in fact, the sums show middle-to-low income pensioners with little capacity to adjust, would have been seriously impacted.

"National Seniors isn't opposed to reform, but changes that significantly affect the lives of ordinary Australians must be done in a considered way, not as a quick budget fix.

"Parliament should reject the proposals to allow a comprehensive review that considers all components of the retirement income system..."

The Coalition's changes to the pension taper rate and assets test would have seen 325,000 retirees lose some or all of their pension in 2017. Based on current interest rates, a single person earning $16,500 p.a. (3%) from $550,000 in assets would no longer qualify for a part pension.

Yet a single person with few savings, and therefore entitled to the full Age Pension, would receive about $22,365 a year (2015 Age Pension amount) plus state concessions on rates, utilities and registrations.

A couple earning $24,750 a year (3%) from $825,000 in assets would no longer qualify for a part pension.

Yet a couple with few savings on the full Age Pension will receive about $33,717 a year (2015 rates) plus state concessions on rates, utilities and registrations.

Pensioner comments:

"We have been planning on using the superannuation… to fund my partner's entry into aged care as he has dementia. We have never thought of ourselves as wealthy… we are very disheartened and worried about our future." - JH

"If the rate of decrease doubles to $3 we will lose $720/FN and find it extremely difficult to live."

- PK

Source: National Seniors


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