Listen up Tony: Obama says “One of the best measures of a country is how it treats its older citizens” 249



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It seems Tony Abbott has a lot to learn from American counterpart Barack Obama, who addressed the White House at the once-a-decade Conference on Ageing.

The conference aims to educate and communicate on a wide range of topics that affect the ageing population in America, but there are a number of things us Australians can take from a meeting of this size, especially because of our close ties with the US.

“One of the best measures of a country is how it treats its older citizens,” President Obama said.

He discussed the urgency of addressing the growing population of seniors and the expense of their care in the future. Like Australians, Americans suffer chronic illnesses as they age, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and dementia, and 80 per cent of those over 65 have at least one chronic condition.

Obama spoke passionately and emphatically about the senior population, and it makes us wonder, when was the last time Tony Abbott did that for us? He started his speech at the White House Conference on Ageing by talking about his grandmother.

“My grandmother was a fiercely independent woman.  She helped to raise me.  She didn’t have a college degree.  She worked her way up, working on bomber assembly lines – Rosie the Riveter – during the war, and then went on, got a job as a secretary and then kept on working her way up until she was vice president of a local bank.  And after my grandfather died, she chose to live independently.

She had the confidence that, having worked hard, played by the rules, she was rewarded with a safe foundation for retirement and she could not fall through those cracks.  That was a promise this country made to her and all its citizens.  And as a grateful grandson – who happens to be President – that is a promise I’m going to make sure we’re going to keep for future generations.  We’ve got to make sure that it’s there for people who are working today”.

He went on to say that he needs to work hard to ensure every older citizen has the resources and the support that they need to thrive, however there are challenges such as the rising costs of care and the fact that we’re living longer and living healthier.

“We’re seeing people break athletic records in their 60s. In just about every field, Americans who once might have been dismissed as out of touch or past their primes are making vital contributions in every field.  And all of us, as a consequence, are able to raise our own ambitions about what we hope to achieve in our golden years.  And since I’m living out dog years here in the presidency, this is something I’m paying a lot of attention to. Look at this hair!”.

He assured his nation’s ageing population that he was not going to cut back on services and the goal is to “make sure that you’re getting more of the services that you need, less of the services you don’t, so you’ve got more money left over to do even more stuff that you need to keep you healthy and active and thriving”. Tony, take note.

And the one thing that so many of us worry about was at the core of the very powerful speech – leaving the workforce without having saved enough for a dignified retirement. He acknowledged, “there are a lot of folks out here who work really, really hard, but at the end of the day just still don’t have enough of a nest egg.  In today’s economy, preparing for retirement has gotten tougher”.

Obama has a three step plan to deal with those issues – keep their welfare system strong, put an end to financial advisors who pocket your money without advising what’s best – “If they are advising you on how to save your money, they should be looking out for you — not for somebody who’s selling a product that may not be best for you”, and make it easier to save for retirement.

His government has also held regional forums with over 65s in America to hear ideas about how to make things better in their lives. Based on feedback, he is going to make it easier for people who are homebound to get nutritional assistance and update quality and safety requirements for thousands of nursing homes.

“We’re going to train more prosecutors in how to combat elder abuse. We’re going to help federal workers and their supervisors better understand how our policies on workplace flexibility can support employees who are also caregivers to aging parents”, he said.

And finally, he finished by saying something we all wish Tony Abbott would:

“We need to recommit ourselves to finishing the work that earlier generations began: make sure this is a country that remains one where no matter who you are or where you started off, you’re treated with dignity, your hard work is rewarded, your contributions are valued, you have a shot to achieve your dreams whatever your age“.


Tell us today, do you think it’s about time Tony Abbott made these commitments directly to the ageing population of Australia? Are you just about ready to move to America? We want to know your thoughts!

Starts at 60 Writers

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  1. Obama says it all…Abbott is only interested in himself and his own personal beliefs. He doesn’t care about the poor or the aged, he is only interested in revenge on Labour. He is an arrogant son of a bitch

  2. Even tougher for older Australians when Abbot plays ping pong with our Super.

    1 REPLY
    • Mike here-shhhh, David, don’t call him short. It’s not his fault that his knuckles are very nearly dragging on the ground.

  3. Please do not compare our beautiful country to the U.S.

    22 REPLY
    • Usually I would agree with you, Wendy, but people are comparing Obama with Abbott and in this case Obama seems to have more of a vision than nasty little Abbott, who does not respect the people of this country.

    • No I haven’t but I have seen a great deal of this country. I do not agree to a lot of their laws and the amount of money they spend when trying to get a particular party to run their country. I have met a few Americans in my travels and have not been overly impressed

      1 REPLY
      • That’s a shame Wendy, the ones I’ve met have all been extremely likable. One of them though, has just had to remortgage his house to pay for his medication that his insurance company won’t pay. In the US, the insurance companies rule on your treatment. And if you don’t have insurance (as in, if you lose your job) then you don’t get treatment unless you’re extremely wealthy. This is the path Tony Abbott is taking us and if people are not terrified of this happening here, then they bloody well should be.

    • If you haven’t been there you are not in a position to make comparisons. If I judged Australians by some of the obnoxious ones I have met whilst travelling overseas I would be most unimpressed by this country & its people.

    • Yes most were comparing Obama & Abbott but you brought beauty into it.. I love Australia & will always live here & yes there are some really beautiful places here. I’ve traveled extensively in the US & It’s an extremely beautiful place..

    • Maybe so but whenever you can you always knock Abbott and no I am not a liberal supporter but how you can compare him with the leader of another country beats me. For a start our laws and beliefs are totally different

    • They sure are different Wendy. Abbott needs to go and I am not Australian nor do I live there but listening to him makes me shake my head with disgust

    • Our tennis players are not the same as the two spoilt brats who are trying to bring the game down. If you do not live in this country Norah you are only reading what the media writes about him. When it comes to politics we do not have a leader from any of the parties who make a decent PM. From my point of view they are all idiots. What we need is some good people in government who can bring this country back to what it used to be. Until that happens I believe companies from other countries will be dictating to whoever is in. The Chinese are trying to move in and we have to stop that. They say China will be the next country to fall over and I don’t want this country to go with them. We have to learn to stand on our own feet.

    • I really can’t see go you can judge someone when you do not live here. I don’t think much of Hilary Clinton But that is only based on what I have heard of her on the media same as you and Tony Abbott

    • Abbot is a Narcissist,through and through….cold,calculating,greedy,power hungry…totally void of any ability to listen to the people of this beautiful country….we had a Premier like that ,here in Queensland….and he is now gone…voted out by the people for being exactly like Abbot….and he cleared his office out and disappeared the very next day…..He did not want to stick around to see all the lies he told us ,while in Government,come to light….All smoke and mirrors his government was……Abbot is the next to go,because people are sick and tired of being treated like objects instead of humans!!!

    • If you are talking about “can do” he was put in that so called safe seat by the members of the Liberal party. He turned into an arrogant ????? but in saying that he was a good Lord Mayor of Brisbane better than that idiot Quirk

    • The only problem with federal politics. Labor won’t get in while that idiot Shorten is there. People would be idiots if they voted for the greens so who else is there.

    • It is not a comparison between 2 countries, it is a comparison between the vision for the ageing by 2 leaders.

    • Yes well there’s nothing we can take from Obama. At least we don’t have the divide between black and white like they do in the states

    • Wendy. You have said that because Norah does not live in this country she can only judge Tony Abbott on what she reads about him, yet you are judging Obama? Have you lived in America?

    • All I said we were different countries and had different laws. I have said nothing about Obama because all I know about him is what I read in the papers and I don’t take much notice of the media because all they want to do is sell their papers. And you know what happened to the Murdoch press in the UK. So I rest my case.

    • I did live there for 13 years Wendy John Howard was PM then. Him and Abbott are tarred with the same brush.

    • I think we will have to agree to disagree. I know Abbott is a goose but so in Shorten. I think both parties need a big shake up. The ordinary man on the street will never get in unless he has the money to back himself.

    • Sad Wendy! Your understanding is much wanting. Obama is a mountain compared to Tony who makes ‘mountain of molehill’.

    • Shorten is the man who stabbed both Rudd and Gillard in the back to get where he is, Abbott is the other half of Costello and Hockey is just the fourth member of the 3 plus stooges, all I can say is God help Australia because we sure as hell are going to need it

  4. If he is saying it then he is doing something!! On the other handTony Abbott seems to be doing all he can to make it difficult, but of course it won’t happen to him, he will have the superannuation etc etc etc to have a cruise every year, all the meds and operations he needs when he retires, so no problem!!

  5. Are you lot for real… Look at the mess Obama has got America into…. He’s s disgrace…

    1 REPLY
    • Says who, Helen? I’ve read a lot of the Republican rubbish that goes on in America. Just depends on what side you’re on, really. I think Obama has been a great statesman for his country.

  6. No comparison Obama is a man of vision, he is the leader of the free world, Abbott is little tinpot would be dictator, who can see nothing much beyond himself

  7. Obama’s speech makes more sense than the rubbish and lies that come out of Abbott’s mouth. Judge a country by the way it treats its seniors. Abbott cuts pensions. Obama even ensured that US citizens have equal marriage rights. Our miserable PM does everything to prevent it happening here. Roll on Election Day 2016!

    25 REPLY
    • Hey Wendy, give me proof of one – just one – instance of The Prime Minister cutting pensions. Pensions are going up every year.

    • Colleen Duncan As of July the rules for pension entitlement changed, meaning that many pensioners will no longer qualify for a pension or the pharmaceutical bonuses. That was generally reported in the media.

    • Many pensioners Wendy so dramatic .Why is it labor or it followers can’t just say some pensioners etc etc no it’s many pensioners .Wendy why don’t you just say all pensioners .I know you would like to .& try 2 scare the old people into disbelief . Unbelievable over statements mmmmm

    • Bruce Mason. Many part pensioners will have their pensions cut, I think about 170,000. That is not ALL pensioners, but it is a fair few in anyones language.

    • And about 90,000 more will lose it altogether. In spite of that, the most vulnerable, i.e. those on a full pension without any assets will receive no more.

    • Bruce Mason, read what Yvonne Jackson wrote. As I said, MANY pensioners, not some or all, will lose pensions. I was not dramatic, nor did I exaggerate, nor was there any “over statements” as you put it. Also, I am not a Labor supporter. You, on the other hand, were unnecessarily critical and WRONG!!

    • O u would like 2 think so by the way look at figures u have to have a lot of assets a redy money to loose it . By the way I know pensioners who can’t get any pension because of there assets fact so don’t try to say it’s something new please spare the drama 2 someone who knows nothing mmmm

    • mike here-i don’t vote for either lib nor lab unless they come up with something startling, but Bruce, the precedent was set when Hockey said pensioners were leaners not some but pensioners.

    • News 2 me June wrong iff he did can u show it not saying he didn’t but truth does get stretched sometimes yes

    • Bruce Mason. The situation is this. People who receive the full pension will be unchanged. People who have assets between appr. $280,000 and $500,000 who are on a part pension will receive more than they currently do. Any part pensioner with assets over $500,000 but under $823,000 will receive less part pension than they do now. Any pensioner who has over $823,000 who now receive a part pension will receive nothing. However, those retirees with $1million to $8, 10 whatever million who have their assets in a SMSF. , some who are receiving incomes of hundreds of thousands of dollars wll not be paying any tax at all. Apparently those who in the middle section are apparently the “leaners”. It might be an idea if you read the legislation, to have an idea what you are talking about.

    • Bruce Mason, it is fair to say that most of us on SA60 site are on a pension. We note that the NEW rules came in in July and the asset levels changed, so we do know what we are talking about. It is because of these new rules that people will lose pensions, as I said at the beginning.

    • Wendy. The legislation that I have mentioned is activated on Jan.1 either 2016 or 17, not sure which. It was part of the budget.

    • Yvonne Jackson. Thanks. You could be right. I thought it was July. Perhaps it was announced in July. I just know that things will change for a lot of people, which seems unfair. I believe Abbott should go after the rich and not try to take away from the poor.

    • Labor will support it u miss my point pensioners were allready wiped off assets were above limit nothing changed & nothing different just think of the worker as well we struggle & no thanks from anyone it will have to pass senate anyway so just call it even on both sides iff it does

    • Wendy France, presidents nearing the end of term promise and say anything. Because they do not have to deal with the consequences. Clinton promised every American that they could own their own home. This gave the world the GFC. Created by trillions of home debt, that was bundled up as assets and sold to institutions around the world. Americans could not repay the home loans, defaulted and that created the GFC. Obamas decision will have results that will cause other problems.

    • I can tell u Yvonne vulnerable won’t loose a thing o most sorry let’s beat it up a bit u have a labor tendency 2 exaturate I wonder iff u even believe it figures let’s pluck one out hope people are vulnerable enough 2 believe it

    • Why I think indexation 2 a year same as allwAys iff I had the assets & money I wouldn’t want the pension is australia turning into a I want no matter

    • Bruce Mason. Is there something you are not understanding? If you care to read my post again CAREFULLY you may. These changes have already passed the senate with the help of the greens – all part of the budget. Do you EVER listen to , or watch parliament? No, the most vulnerable, the full pensioner will not lose a thing, but they will be no better off. Labor put forward a proposal to tax the retirees with millions on the component they earn over $75,000 per year. I am sure if you had 5 or 6 mllion, you would not mind paying some tax -. actually it was 15% of any income over $75,000 –would you? But no, the government decided to take money from those with a lot less. Yes, there is a limit to what you can have in assets at the moment, it is appr. $1,200,000. That will be lowered tp $823,000. Still think you do not understand. The figures I have mentioned have not been plucked from the air. They are on the government website if you care to look it up. Why do people like you think if any one criticises anything this government does, that they are left or whatever. In this country we have a right to criticise a government of any persuasion, if you do not like any one thing they have introduced, whether labor, liberal, or the drover’s dog.

    • Russell McVey. The banks gave rise to the GFC, by lending money to people who could not afford to pay. Obama may not have been a perfect president, but can you name anyone who would have done better?

    • Yvonne u r all over the shop what more are u talking about they have never received more Oliver it’s a twist of u r on a path of figures

    • He is no Robin Hood towards the poor that is for sure. Please help the Australian poor and the down trodden and the old.

    • Russell McVey I know presidents on the way out make promises, but I don’t think Obama is too bad. The one I couldn’t stand was George The Cowboy Bush! However, Abbott is letting everyone down.

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