Budget message is don't get sick or old, pensioners group says

The Federal Government's message to Australians is: ‘if you get sick, you’ll pay. If you get old, you’ll pay. If you lose your job or acquire a disability, don’t expect to get support so easily', according to CPSA Manager, Research and Advocacy, Amelia Christie.

Reacting to Tuesday's Budget, Ms Christie said the burden was falling heavily on the shoulders of those least able to afford it.

“Removing wage indexation of the pension (Age, Disability Support and Carer pensions) is going to have a devastating impact on pensioners, especially the two million who have no other income but the pension,” she said.

“Even the Commission of Audit didn’t go so far as to recommend removing wage indexation entirely. CPI does not reflect the purchasing practises of a pensioner, which is why the Pensioner & Beneficiary Living Cost Index (planned to be scrapped, too) was introduced in 2009. In other words, pensioners will see a real reduction in their income.”

“Over the past five years, if the pension was lifted in line with inflation alone and not wages, pensioners would be $32.10 per week worse off today. In other words, the historic 2009 pension increase would be all but wiped out.

“Paying $7 per visit to a GP will deter many from visiting their doctor or getting much needed pathology tests or scans.”

“Cutting back the incomes of Australia’s pensioners over time, while granting welfare to a greater number of seniors too wealthy to be eligible for a pension through the CSHC, is going to be a tough sell for the Abbott Government.”

“CPSA does welcome clamping down on the super income loophole in the interests of fairness. CSHC holders with only super income avoid the income test for the payment because super is tax free and only taxable income applies to the CSHC income test.”

Ms Christie said the CPSA welcomed the Restart program, which would help mature-aged unemployed people get jobs.

"It is good to see that the $10,000 incentive payment for employers will be spread over two years, which will encourage employers to retain jobseekers over the long term.”

“Forty-one per cent of the long-term unemployed are aged over 45. CPSA is keen to see how successful the Restart program will be in reducing mature-age long-term unemplyment, particularly in light of the pension age rising to 70.”

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