The sad and shocking truth about your pension

After doing your bit to provide Australia with 25 years of unbroken economic growth, apparently this is what to expect if
Sadly, this is true.

After doing your bit to provide Australia with 25 years of unbroken economic growth, apparently this is what to expect if you’re about to retire on the age pension – Pension poverty.

According to a new study funded by the Benevolent Society, almost one third of Australians on the age pension are living in poverty. And why does this happen? It’s because the base rate of the age pension is $794 a fortnight and the poverty line is not very fat from that – $851.

About a week ago, both the government and the opposition claimed credit for Australia’s world-beating economic performance but no one can recall either the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull or Opposition Leader Bill Shorten claiming credit for the shortfall between the age pension and the poverty line.

How do you define pension poverty? According, Dr Mark Hearn is a lecturer in the Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations, Macquarie University, “It’s not too hard: for example, it’s when an old-timer pours a bucket of tepid water over his body because he can’t cover the cost of a shower.”

While a majority of people seemed fixated by the government’s craven backdown on reducing superannuation entitlements for the wealthy, few news media focus on the pension poverty report.

Dr Mark Hearn says, “Great news: wealthy people will now only be able to put aside up to $100,000 a year and still be rewarded with a generous tax concession. But wait a minute: let’s pause on ‘tax concession’, that glib piece of financial code. It links insidiously with another. A tax concession is somebody else’s pension poverty. After all, governments can’t fund everything, can they?”

“Indeed, like overheated lyrebirds, the Turnbull government and the Labor opposition extravagantly display their brilliant commitment to ‘fiscal responsibility’: they both claim credit for passing $6 billion in spending cuts through the federal parliament.

“Despite Labor’s success in preventing cuts for those receiving social security payments, the Turnbull government’s omnibus spending reduction bill will do its bit to deepen the pit of pension poverty.

“As the Australian Council of Social Service observes, “low-income families will still be hurt by the loss of the energy supplement from family payments. A single-parent family with two teenage children will lose $284 a year, or $5.50 a week”. The march towards age-pension poverty often starts young, in entrenched patterns of poverty, ” adds Dr Hearn.

A few years back the ABC’s 7.30 reported on a recently-retired woman who was unable to pay her electricity bills. “Each winter night she exercised the free choice of penury: either turning on the radiator or the oven. She could not afford to do both,” said Dr Hearn.

“That woman was a retired school teacher. She educated our children. How did we reward her? Pension poverty.”

Dr Hearn said, “Don’t look to your federal government to provide shelter. They’re too preoccupied with dazzling you with the bright plumage of fiscal responsibility.

“Although you’ll be relieved to know that the Turnbull government has found a whacking $50 billion to publicly subsidise company tax cuts. Who says there’s no role for government in the free market?” asked Dr Hearn.

“Now $50 billion would fund a few pensioners the price of shower, wouldn’t it?

“You might have to be quick to scroll the headlines of pension poverty. The September 15 article disappeared from the ABC News web page within a few hours. Perhaps the article wasn’t ‘trending’, and so quietly faded from site, so to speak.

“History is like that; it goes into hiding, neglected in the stampede into the future. But that does not mean our history has gone away. It turns up everywhere, in a humble suburban flat, or encoded in the abyss between the age pension and the poverty line,” said Dr Hearn.

What are your thoughts on the government’s position when it comes to pension? How do you feel reading this article?

Dr Mark Hearn is a lecturer in the Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations, Macquarie University. His full opinion piece can be found here.

  1. Fadila  

    Governments of Australia are responsible for pensioners . Just like the pensioners were responsible for paying taxes and keeping the economy going for many years to see Australia move forward into the world markets . Shame on any governments neglegance to provide their elderly citizens with the proper care and payments to sustain their wellbeing . They keep on telling the pensioners that we are living too long . Let me tell you I’ve been to other countries where they have pension payments and an increase every year to help with inflation . Let us not forget we are a population of just 24 million Australia is a wealthy country with all its recourses , stop taking it out on the only people that are really in need . Yes mining companies should be taxed to cover the pensioners because we are Australia and have served Australia our entire lives . And our children continue to serve this country and keep it going . Time to lay off the pensioners and give them dignity and respect in their twilight years .

    • Mary Newell  

      Fadilia, you have provided an accurate profile of exactly what the situation now is for most Pensioners
      The great and wonderful hope if looking forward to the years of Returemrnt no longer exists in this country
      I see struggling Pensioners -many are still renting, they have little Super, if any and they live beyond the Poverty line
      Once more, over promised and under delivered by this wonderful hypocritical Government of this country

  2. Barbara Cleland  

    I started work at 14 retired at 70 I dont get the full pension because I managed to get long service and the bonus scheme because I worked beyond the retiremant age,so for every year I worked beyond the pension retiremant age they gave me a pension bonus.Superannuation did not come in until my working age was almost over, I get a pension fund of $330 monthly which allows me to get $660 per fortnight, pension, the pension fund, is spent on Private Health Insurance for me and my husband, Centrelink want to know what I do with my money yearly,We are very fortunate that we own our home,but the rates come in yearly,along with water rates,Gas and Electricity, so there is not much left.I have paid my taxes, went back to work nights after each child to pay off our house, so you tell me!!!

    • We are both pensioners & also have bupa health insurance,my husband has just had to have an mri scan with injected contrast on his prostate to see re cancer. This cost us $450 with NO REBATE FROM MEDICARE OR BUPA ‼️That is really disgraceful, end of rant ‼️

      • Pamela  

        Marilyn, only use your private health insurance when it will benefit you. At 67 I am on the pension and am a public patient with no health insurance. I have had excellent medical treatment through cancer surgery twice, radiotherapy, broken arm, abdominal surgery, full hip replacement, hyperbaric treatment, 2 MRIs, numerous xrays and CT scans. All my treatments including specialists and GPs are bulk billed. My specialists are world class! The dearest thing I pay is the occasional hospital parking fee. I have nothing but praise for how Medicare works for me.

    • amelinixon  

      Ah if only I could get a job and return to work to pay my bills. Even when not of pensionable age I could not find work even though I sent off hundreds of applications. The truth is that if you retire you will need to work at least some hours to pay for bills but alas no-one is hiring. If you are a renter be prepared to pay most of your pension on rent. I do not drink smoke or go on excursions or trips, I amuse myself by reading and walking. I pay $15 per week for swimming for my health to keep me going.

  3. Carmel Friberg  

    This government is the worse Government of all time its ok for them to get wage rises and big ones at that it appears to me that by paying pensioners low fortnightly payments we will stave to death therefore payments cease saving government money why should they care they make sure they are cared for. I am so disgusted with the Federal and the State governments they are all low lifes only looking after their own interests. They should stop the immigrations and the overseas aid and start looking after our own people and stop this bowing and scrapping to these immigrants and paying them and their 3 wives if we tried that we would not get it. I am 72 and I dont get a pension as my husband is still working up to 58 hrs per week to make ends meet.

  4. Ian  

    They stole our pension fund and now they are getting their hands onto the future fund along with your superannuation, whats next ? Everything is sold ,we buy our army uniforms offshore , we dont tax multinationals for raping and pillaging our landscape, or hiding and steeling money by fraudulent transactions,
    Our poiticians can hide money in panama but thats all right because its legal,who makes the laws?
    You can go on and on i think we are being sold out ,by the public servant bosses and the governments of both parties. So much for a fair go , I think they hope for civil war , john howard gave australian soldiers the right to shoot australians .

  5. Fran  

    We started late with super savings not a lifetime. We paid high interest rates on our mortgages. We paid high taxes. Not rocket science to expect a return? NZ does not asset test. You just pay Tx on your earnings.

  6. Jenny  

    I’m 61, divorced and am too young for a pension. It’s impossible to find work at my age and I have to live on a “Newstart” allowance of $572 per fortnight. I left work and raised my children so have not much super. I wish I could get the Age Pension.

  7. Robyn MacKellar  

    Now people are talking about taking the energy supplement back. Tell me, hands up everyone whose energy bill went down when carbon tax was abolished. No, I thought not. It’s about time that politicians dealt with reality.

  8. Trish  

    Is there a political party for seniors or a lobbyist organisation? We need to have a voice.

    • Lynne.Highfield  

      EXACTLY TRISH! HOW DO WE START ONE?

    • [email protected]  

      http://www.nationalserniors.com.au a website and lobby group for over 50s.

      Glenda

  9. Truth 13  

    The only thing the governments were good at was, TAXING the people, on everything they could get their hands on. People should have the right to ask the governments, what happened to the taxes they paid, for close to or over 40 years, working. What did the governments provide. Someone said, Roads. Where is the money collected when pumping fuel to the vehicles. Wasn’t mit for roads ? Everyone who has a job, paid medicare levy, for their health needs in the future. Everyone paid water, electricity, gas, insurance, car registration, stamp duty, GST since 1st July 2000, sales tax, etc. etc etc. If the people of the country are denied a pension, why is it ONLY available to the past & current members in the parliament ?. It is time the seniors should get together & start a political party.

    • [email protected]  

      Agree. Maybe more people should consider the Hanson Party as they are already formed. Pauleen has many good ideas, and if more retired aged people joined her group, maybe we would/could get a hearing…

  10. Trevor  

    i have said it before we people over 55 should forget about your old bias toward any political party form a strong loby group to put pressure on the politicians, both parties have wasted so much money over the years.It is the older generation that is being screwed .The politicians think we wont be around for long so our votes dont count.They keep giving themselves more pay along with the leading public servants,eg S Conroy just quit his job in the senate he leaves with a pension paid strait away in the 3 figures annually and goes into a high paid job as well.We give more to refugees than we give to our pensioners

  11. Pamela  

    At 67 I am on the pension and am a public patient with no health insurance. I have had excellent medical treatment through cancer surgery twice, radiotherapy, broken arm, abdominal surgery, full hip replacement, hyperbaric treatment, 2 MRIs, numerous xrays and CT scans. All my treatments including specialists and GPs are bulk billed. My specialists are world class! The dearest thing I pay is the occasional hospital parking fee. I have nothing but praise for how Medicare works for me.

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