Our nation’s pension policy changed forever this week and some here will be winners and others losers. One thing is for sure, the biggest win is that all eyes are now on grey policy, which is finally becoming more important than ever to the pollies and no doubts they are learning the danger of landing large sweeping policies that affect all in this generation are trouble with a capital T.
A deal between the LNP and the Greens has ensured the mining-boom policy of loosened access to the pension will change, restricting “pension millionaires” by potentially disabling those with a smart accountant from finding loopholes that get them access to taxpayer funds whilst giving a little back to everyone who really needs the pension to survive. It is a far cry from the policy on pensions that the Government presented last year, and shows the need the Government has to compromise in order to avoid the true pain of what will not doubt be called “grey issues” over coming years as the generation swells and the politics rise to the fore. The key learning appears to be – never ever address the whole older population at once with one policy that hurts them or they will rise up against it with so much power it hurts! We hope the Government has learned.
It is 13 months since the LNP declared an attack on pensions and superannuation in their first budget, perhaps the most important 13 months in the history of grey power in politics, and it proves – this older generation should not be messed with to their disadvantage politically. Whilst not organised into a party, nor at the full strength that a larger retired population will bring, the older generations are set to become the largest of their kind in history, and this will not be missed by many here. But have you stopped to consider how this could impact policy going forward and the learning of politicians?
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This week, we’ve seen the political hot potato of pensions put to bed on this one deal with Shorten and the Labor Party sidestepped by Abbott, Morrison and the new Greens Leader De Natale who is proving much more mainstream than Milne before him. Together this new coalition of Liberal and Greens has been able to find common ground on the need to change welfare for the wealthy rules and bring the budget back to a longer term fiscal vision than those enjoyed during the resources boom.
The policy passed this week divides and conquers rather than rallying the older gen together. It has 170,000 pensioners better off, with an increase of $30 a fortnight to their pension, Another 91,000 pensioners will however have to forgo their part-pension to help them, and 235,000 more will feel reductions to their payments due to assets testing, which will force people with what these two parties have labelled a significant amount of savings, to live off their own assets. Until now people could own their own home plus have assets with a value of up to $1.2 million and still been able to line up and receive part-pensions. Not so anymore with the divide and conquer policy approach.
It’s a typical Robin Hood manoeuvre, take from the rich and give to the poor; and by doing it within the cohort, they avoid a mass-lynching. Superannuation policy is the next one on the deck. Again, it will likely not affect as many people in this generation as the media all thinks. Many (70+%) over 60s have super funds of less than $100,000 meaning changes to Superannuation policies that exclude the everyday person will remain aimed at the affluent and therefore avoid being a uniform attack on the older generation which we are sure this government has learned is the dumbest political manoeuvre they could contemplate from here on in.
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Divide and conquer we have no doubt is the politics that will face the older generation, delivering small benefits to those who can’t afford it and modifying policy on those who can. But if we sit back and think about the power this generation wields and the issue we would really like to see addressed by politics, is there a way we can use the power of the older generations working together to drive better outcomes?
What issues would you like to see addressed that you think our over 60s could stand up and fight for together?