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COTA

Media Release

Deputy PM must apologise for outrageous slur on Australian pensioners

Deputy PM Warren Truss is reported to have told the Conservative Breakfast Club in Brisbane yesterday that many older people are squandering their superannuation savings on luxury items and cruises and then going on the pension.

Ian Yates, CE of leading seniors advocate COTA Australia, said the reported comments display a disturbing lack of knowledge about the financial reality of most older Australians; and using them to justify the Government's proposed cuts to the age pension will greatly offend many struggling seniors.

"The fact is that most full pensioners come to the age pension from another benefit," Mr Yates said.

"The 2009 Harmer Review found that over 80% of men and nearly 90% of women eligible for a full pension at age 65 are coming off another Commonwealth payment like the Disability Support Pension or Newstart. That was also true for about 40% going onto a part pension."

"Many people spend years struggling to make ends meet on these other benefits then they transfer to the age pension when they are 65. They can only dream about overseas holidays or cruises.

"Others, especially older women who have only ever worked casually or part time due to raising children, and low income workers, have very little superannuation when they retire and certainly not enough to see them out for their lifetime.

"Senior Australians are on the whole very careful with the money they have saved and misinformed comments that they are throwing it around on ‘luxury' items as Mr Truss suggestions will incense them, particularly in light of the Government's plans to cut pension indexation."

Mr Yates said Mr Truss owed older Australians an apology for his comments.

"Depicting retirees who need to access the pension as living the high life, as a way to sell the unreasonable changes the Government is planning to indexation of the pension in three years times, is just offensive.

"The fact is that if the new indexation arrangements had been in place the last four years then the $30 single pension increase in 2009 - which the Coalition fought hard for alongside seniors groups - would already have been eroded away completely.

"This is an attack on the standard of living of over three million pensioners.

"If Mr Truss has somehow identified a problem of a few retirees blowing their superannuation so they can go on the pension then perhaps the Government could have looked at a policy measure to address it instead of punishing all pensioners with a slog to their hip pocket."

Download a copy of the media release

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Jane Garcia 0434 489 533.

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