We’ve written a lot here on SAS about the changes to the age pension.
As you’re no doubt aware, on January 1 hundreds of thousands of Australian pensioners will lose all or part of their pension due to changes to the assets test.
It’s a decision that’s been greeted with a lot of anger by many pensioners, including those who won’t be affected.
But now one retiree is taking the fight to the Prime Minister himself, and he’s not holding back.
Robert Parry, a retired chartered accountant, has written to Malcolm Turnbull and offered his criticisms and advice about the pension cuts.
Excerpts of his letter, published by the New Daily, make reference to Tony Abbott’s promise not to change or cut the pension and the difficulty getting through to Centrelink.
“Dear Malcolm. You obviously do not understand what is happening with the impending savage cuts to the age pension.” Parry writes.
“You have joined the chorus of your ministers condemning the recent automated phone call sponsored by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, claiming they are scaremongering “on the eve of Christmas”. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
“This is perfectly true for many thousands of Australians. It is not scaremongering — it merely alerts pensioners to what may be about to happen to them”
Parry argues the changes “unbalance” the pension system and that part pensions are “absolutely necessary” to cover the day to day expenses of pensioners, even those with more assets.
“In an effort to belittle homeowners and justify their harsh treatment, they are often described as living in multi-million dollar mansions,” he writs.
“Whilst this is true of a few pensioners, it must be remembered that the Social Security Act says that a pensioner is a homeowner “if they are living in … a campervan, caravan, transportable home or boat in which they have reasonable security of tenure”. There are thousands of pensioners in this situation.”
What about Centrelink?
Well, Parry brings up Centrelink in his letter and argues that many pensioners haven’t been informed of the cuts – even though letters have been sent.
“The first letter, sent in October, went to only some pensioners telling them about the changes “which may affect you”.” he writes.
“All pensioners should have been told precisely how their pensions were going to be affected, based on the current records held by Centrelink.
“Also, not everyone who received an October letter has received a confirmation letter in December, so many are left wondering if they are unaffected or whether their letter has been delayed.
“There has been a serious breach of natural justice. Pensioners have not been fully informed of their rights.”
Remember when Tony Abbott famously said before the 2013 election that “there will be no changes or cuts to pensions”?
Well, Parry certainly hasn’t forgotten.
“You say: “Our older Australians should be respected, not deliberately frightened for political gain.” Don’t you also agree they should be treated honestly, with promises delivered faithfully?” he writes in his letter to Turnbull.
And he has offered the Prime Minister this advice.
“Malcolm, if you really want to show true leadership and earn the respect of all Australians, you should immediately admit Mr Abbott’s legislation was a blatant breach of an election promise and grossly unfair,” he writes.
“You should give pensioners a real Christmas present by announcing you will honour Mr Abbott’s promise by deferring any change until the new Senate has the chance to hold an extensive enquiry.
“The first payments slashing age pensions do not occur until January 17 so there is still ample time to tell Centrelink to hold off.”
He certainly didn’t hold back!