Government accuses labor of trying to scare pensioners

The federal government has slammed the Labor party over a union campaign aimed at pensioners.

In what seems like the first time all year, politicians are finally talking about pensioners, with Immigration minister Peter Dutton slamming the Labor party today and asking “how low can Bill Shorten go?”.

The campaign at the heart of the issue is a new automated phone call set up by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, which sees people around the country receive a call from a robot called Leanne who says she’s worried about cuts to the pension for her dad.

“I’m worried about my dad,” Leanne says in the call.

“He’s just had a letter from the government saying Malcolm Turnbull will be cutting his pension. He’s a retiree on a fixed income and really needs the pension just to get by each week … Him and mum worked hard their whole lives. So how can the government suddenly make changes now? And just before Christmas?”

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Mr Dutton said the campaign is similar to ‘Mediscare’ and designed to scare people who are feeling vulnerable.

“Mr Shorten needs to come out today and condemn the ACTU. When you think of the ACTU or the CFMEU, think Labor Party. Because all of these people are interchangeable, they’re all in senior positions within the Labor Party and it’s inconceivable that this ad would have gone out without Bill Shorten’s approval,” Mr Dutton told 2GB radio.

“If he didn’t know about it, fair enough, put his hand up, they’ve made a mistake and apologise to these people that they’re scaring on the eve of Christmas.”

When he was questioned over the issue today, Mr Shorten deflected the question and pointed towards the government instead.

“Do you stand up for them or do you stand up for the Turnbull government who is taking pensioners and making them worse off but yet they are going to reward big companies and millionaires with tax cuts that those people don’t need?

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“The Turnbull government has to decide is it on the side of millionaires and large companies or is it on the side of the battler, the pensioner, the kids going to school and the people who need a well-funded Medicare system?”

The changes to the pension are set to kick in from January next year, with many people facing a drastic cut to the amount they receive in their bank accounts each week.

Read more: Age pension – New Year winners and losers

While many are unhappy about the changes, some are saying Labor is taking advantage of the turmoil and playing ‘dirty politics’ to try to win people over.

Others though, say the party is just standing up for pensioners rights and pointing out how much people will be affected by the changes.

Do you think Bill Shorten should put an end to the phone call campaign? Or is it needed to highlight how much the government is taking away from some pensioners?