Thursday, 22 May 2014

Are Pensioners Becoming Scared And Desperate?

On Wednesday the 21 May 2014, a pensioner named Gloria phoned ABC Radio to talk to Tony Abbott who was a guest on the program. She told the Prime Minister that in order to afford to pay her bills and feed herself she has to work for a sex phone line service. She claimed that with the changes to pensions in 2017 that she would be $850 a year, worse off. 

ABC radio reported that Gloria was 67 years old, which would make her an aged pensioner. There seems to have been some dispute about this as Marcus Paul on 2CC in Canberra said this woman was only 63, which would mean she would not qualify for the aged pension.

In any case, Prime Minister Tony Abbott explained to her that she would be better off after the carbon tax is dismantled and that she would retain the compensation payments that were given to low income earners when the carbon tax came in under the Gillard Government. What was not mentioned is the fact that all aged pensioners will lose their Seniors Supplement, which take away about $60 per fortnight. In-fact Mr Abbott conveniently avoided this fact. When you add up the extra she will spend on co-payments to bulk-billing doctors and prescriptions and then factor in this Seniors Supplement, Gloria will be far worse off than she herself has calculated.

Having said all of this; this legislation will not come into effect until the next election has passed, which gives all pensioners a chance in the meantime to work if they can and invest any money they can before this happens. The thing is, there is time to plan and somehow make up for the shortfall. In any case, it is likely that these changes will not go through, given that all but one Senator who will rotate into the Senate in July does agree with cuts to welfare. He does not specify whether he is in favour of changing pensions, but all the other Senators have stated they are against cuts to welfare.

Pensioners are struggling as it is, so how can they afford to lose $60 per fortnight and then be forced to pay co-payments for medical services and extra to pay for their prescriptions. And it must really bug people that Tony Abbott made no mention of the scrapping of the Senior's Supplement. It is doubtful that the aged pensioners forgot about that.

It is pretty clear that not everything Hockey and Abbott have put into the budget will get through the Senate. What is even more clear is that it seems as though Bill Shorten's Labor Party and the Greens would love to see this budget go to a double dissolution election. It really does seem as though Shorten and his buddies are running an election campaign with the sole purpose of scaring the hell out of pensioners, the unemployed and families and branding Abbott and Hockey as liars. Perhaps they are liars, but so is the opposition and every other politician and Australians will get sick of this song soon enough.

This strategy will not buy Labor or the Greens any credibility and certainly will not win them an election, should it go that far. They need to put a plan on the table and come up with alternative idea where the budget can be balanced. They made the financial mess in the first place. Australians are not stupid; they know who is responsible for the mess we are in. As for the people who are running scared, well they should be. This budget is the toughest we have seen since Howard won the election in 1996. Hockey and Abbott are going to have to rethink this plan or do a much better job of selling it. Winking and smirking at a radio announcers and getting captured on film doing so is not helping. People are starting to think that Abbott is arrogant and cannot see the forest for the trees, not to mention the name calling. It will not take long for the public to become angry about this childish behaviour. We all need to grow up and focus on the policies and the issues, instead of slinging mud backwards and forwards.

What do you think of this budget and the behavior of our politicians? I would love to know. Catch up with me on Facebook or Twitter.

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