MP Bob Katter has called for an increase to the age pension, suggesting it be raised by an extra $100 a week to help older Australians combat the rising cost of living.
As reported by the Townsville Bulletin, Katter’s $14bn plan to raise the pension involves charging a five per cent surcharge on all imports into Australia, claiming it would bring an extra $20bn a year.
“If you want to buy something from China instead of Australia, then you should pay 10 per cent more for it,” Katter said.
“People who have worked their whole lives for our nation can’t afford to live on the pension payment they are getting now. Some people on the pension did not have superannuation for most of their working life.”
Katter says his policy would include raising the amount pensioners can earn on top of the government subsidy.
“Single pensioners can currently earn $180 a fortnight before their pension is reduced. I think that figure should be increased so that pensioners can work if they want to, without being penalised,” he said.
Recent research has suggested that many aged pensioners would be prepared to go back to work, with 16 per cent having already returned to the workforce.
“This is going to be a gamechanger for the Australian economy… @mckellar_andrew and @JAWestacott and all the business leaders… they all say this.”
-Our chief advocate @IanHenschke on the right for pensioners to choose to work. #LetPensionersWork https://t.co/NDwic5KTtD
— National Seniors Australia (@NationalSeniors) April 14, 2022
National Seniors’ CEO and Director of Research, Professor John McCallum, said encouraging older Australians to re-enter the workforce would “provide a big shot in the arm for the Australian economy”.
“Many seniors are struggling to make ends meet on the pension but the pension rules are a strong disincentive to do paid work. This traps pensioners at low quality of life including too many in poverty,” he said.
The north Queensland MP said speaking with pensioner Kevin Pattel, inspired his policy proposal.
The Townsville Bulletin reported Pattel, 93, said something needs to change as life has become increasingly harder for pensioners to make ends meet.
“Life is impossible for pensioners and after the election, the prices are only going to keep going up. They are going to go sky high – 700 per cent in some things,” he said.
“Bob has always been a carer to the people, and I had to reach out to Bob to stand up for those that can’t stand up for themselves.”
The unconventional MP has recently based the majority of his policies on protecting Australia from the threat of invasion, with Sky News reporting his calls for a “missile fortress wall” and arming teenagers.