What do you actually want from the government? 208



View Profile

The 2015 budget is fast approaching and just like last year, the pension has been a hot discussion topic. There is one reoccurring theme stemming from discussions about the pension that we see on Starts at 60 and that is that pensioners want more. It is all well and good to want more, and many feel as though we deserve more, but we need to have an honest conversation about what more really is.

Right now, according to ASFA, the Australian Super Funds Association, the income needed for a “modest” lifestyle in retirement for a single person is $23,469pa. The current age pension as deemed “adequate” by the government is $22,365pa, including the pension supplement and the clean energy supplement. It increases twice yearly based on CPI and in accordance with average male fortnightly earnings. As we can see, there is a deficit of $1,104. In 2011, there was 1,293,856 over 65s on the full age pension. A further 865,131 were on the part age pension.

But based on the feedback on articles relating to the pension, seniors seem to need a lot more than $1,104 extra to live a modest lifestyle. Based on the ASFA calculations for cost of living, if a 10 per cent concession was provided to health expenses, transport expenses and energy expenses, there’s already a saving of $1,021.41 per year. So perhaps the government should be looking at providing more concessions to services and necessities that are integral to the every day life of pensioners instead of fumbling to find funds to give across the board increases.

While some people would prefer the convenience of concessions, others argue that they create a culture where the government dictates your spending and takes away the freedom of pensioners. So the alternative is of course, more increases and perhaps a fairer indexation system. Currently, the government is considering changing the indexation system but after initial concerns they would decrease the indexation rates, alternative methods have been proposed only targeting those who are “better off” despite being on the pension. The big question is though, who is “better off” when they’re on the pension?

The problem is that although concessions or an increase could present a big benefit to seniors, the cost for the government is immense. Based on the 2011 pension figures that would mean that a simple increase to the concessions mentioned, would cost the government over $1 billion in additional costs every year. But perhaps it is time that the government understood that there’s no way out.

Ultimately it comes back to the poor forward planning of previous governments and while the superannuation system was introduced, heavy education around finance was needed but wasn’t provided.


So today tell us, what do you want from the government? How much more would you need to live a happy life? Would you prefer an increase to the pension or decreases to living costs? Tell us what you want in the comments below…

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I am fortunate that i do not have to pay rent as i am a homeowner so i find the pension quite sufficient to live on.My husband and i drink and i smoke yet are still able to save .We put all our coins into a jar and by doing so we can bank approximately $1,000 a year..We eat well,our holidays are taken with our caravan and we still find the money to buy plants for our garden and this week we are having ceiling fans installed.We live in an over 50’s village so we don’t pay any connection fees for power{big saving there},no rates, just a modest site fee.We pay monthly for our power and water which equates to about $20 for water and $70 for power.We also have no exit fees so when the house is sold,the normal estate agents fee is all that comes out of the sale price.You need to work to a budget and by doing so will find you are able to save and still live a good life.We also have two cars to insure,register and service.We have the best social security system in the world and i am quite satisfied with the pension.

  2. The single age pension of $430.10 per week is simply not enough to live on.

    6 REPLY
    • As a person who was widowed at 60, I am now 68 and hopefully retiring at the end of this year. I worry that every service costs me as much and more than it did when there were two of us. My country shire has dearer rates than the city, we have to go out of town to large towns or regional cities for medical services. We only have a 1 am bus to do this which is not suitable for medical appointments as the home one is not until 11 pm . Our houses are only worth a very small amount, probably up to $ 90,000 and moving elsewhere would cost4 or 5 times that which would take all our super at least. There has to be a fairer way for singles. We have certainly paid our way and are still paying for two or more. My costs , and I am a very frugal person are more than when I had four kids at home. Costs as much to heat or cool as a family as well as phone, rent, and other services.

    • God what am I going to do if my rent is $370 p/wk? If you have to move you need money to try & find something cheaper & in reality rents are way too much no matter where you live. This terrifies me.

    • Exactly Maureen just because you need the pension does not mean you have not worked hard all your life.

    • I didn’t know they were wanting to include furniture as part of the assets test or your car. Your furniture? OMG are you supposed to sell it to survive ? who will pay what it is worth? Do you use the REPLACEMENT value that you use for insurance? Does not mean current furniture is worth that much otherwise if there was a fire or flooding you wouldn’t have enough to replace them if you used current value. If the car is included once again what value do you use?
      A car is a necessary item as you age as you need to get around & to doctors. I just think if you have a luxury car then that is different. This is a mine field.

      2 REPLY
      • Furniture and cars have always been included in the asset tests and you use the amount that you would get if you sold the items.

      • Hi Kay, the value you use is what you would get for it tomorrow if you needed funds urgently and put it all out on the front lawn for sale. Basically what you can do to turn it into cash. Not what it is insured for.

  3. I am single and one a pension and I do not get $1,104 a fortnight..I wish I did, I could manage on that. I like the more concessions idea, but the reality is The Liberal Government has cut funding for our concession cards and handed funding to the States. We only have a guarantee that will funding it till July this year. Then life will get a lot harder for pensioners if they cut it. No way would I ever vote for this Government and all its crap

    3 REPLY
    • Try GOYA Leanna and go and get a part time job. Get out in the fresh air away from you PC all day and deliver some local newspapers. Anything to improve your miserable life. You are responsible for your emotions.

  4. I get a DSP and I dont get that. My rent kills me and even when I was fortunate to live in Centacare housing, I paid the same rent as a married pensioner couple. I dont know the answer but I also know the way they work out the average wage sucks.

    5 REPLY
    • no one knows the answer. .. every single person has a different story to tell, a different cross to bare. it a struggle for a lot because not all of us have the same intellect and know how . we are slaves , once your used up and give up you no longer matter. that’s my opinion.

    • I hope you are not saying that some people on this site are not as smart and don’t know how to manage as well as others Dianne Star-wisher?? That is an opinion that is insulting to others, not constructive. Intellect??? Really????

    • not constructive at all Dianne..this has nothing to do with intellect, unless you add the Governments low intellect into the equation..this is about people struggling to pay the bills and eat at the same time.

    • Exactly and I for one don’t think I am better at managing than anyone else – or worse.

    • I think Diane means some can’t budget very well. Didn’t take her comment as a put down for anyone. Just a fact,

  5. live within your means

    5 REPLY
    • I don’t drink or smoke. I buy only enough groceries to get me through. Until recently my internet and phone have been paid for by my son. In three months I saved $50. That will stop now and go towards my phone. I very rarely go anywhere that it costs money. When car rego and power bill etc comes in, we are stuffed. I would say that’s living within my means as many of us do. Oh wait, I’d say that’s just surviving, not living…

    • Many of us can’t afford health insurance and hope to hell we don’t get sick or need an operation. You try to make sure you have house and/or contents insurance to protect what you have got as you won’t be able to buy anything else once you have no more salary. Ff you have a car you try to keep it on the road so you are not isolated then you have car rego, car insurance and hopefully some for maintenance.
      This is all before you pay rent, ours is $370 p/wk before we have any food and we are pretty good at making economical dishes, so if we get the pension are you suggesting we don’t have a car & reply on public transport, if you are not very strong it is a nightmare doing your shopping by public transport. You can’t walk home if you have problems with your knees so how do you shop for yourself if there is poor transport to the shops? I wouldn’t say people in this same position are living beyond our means, they are trying to protect what they have & don’t go out, don’t smoke or drink. As Fran says it is surviving not living.
      No matter what you do you have electricity and gas if in your house so there is a basic cost of living no matter how careful you are, especially harder if having to pay rent. I think if you owned your home so you have no mortgage then the pension would JUST cover a reasonable life. Not the case for everyone though

      1 REPLY
      • Yes if you own your own home ok but there’s rates and water to pay which if you live in a over 50’s or unit or something similar you end up paying a share of water for the whole complex which could include families as well as singles plus home and contents ins .so really your no better off

        1 REPLY
        • Over 50’s villages usually have a power meter for each house or unit.You pay for what you use.

  6. Sometimes we forget that it is our responsibility to plan a little for our retirement. Very few of us on this site have had the opportunity of acquiring super in the amount that we need. But we have had years to plan. I know that things can go wrong. But to think that we can live without some planning and expect to be looked after completely by the pension, is not wise. The pension is not there to keep us in the lap of luxury. It is there as a safety net. Many countries do not have any form of pension for the elderly or those in need. Yes, we would all like more, but we would never be satisfied. I have been on the pension for five years now and consider it enough to live on. I don’t smoke or drink and we eat well. With discounts on many services, we get along fine.

    11 REPLY
    • Agree! I am managing well on a single pension. Too much moaning going on. I realise some have a struggle I’m sorry for that.

    • well all have different circumstances in life..some pay more for rent , some are in housing commission, some own their own homes. Just because your managing ok..doesn’t mean that everyone is..it is not a one size fits all situation.. I do believe these wealthy pensioners..should be booted off the pension..why should my children pay taxes to help support them, when they are better off financially than my kids are

    • I agree, also some people working get that much or even less to live on. We can’t expect to live in luxury at the country’s expense. The pension is a privilege not a right.

    • Leana I kinda agree about wealthy people being on the pension as it makes it harder for those that do need it. If they have enough property fully paid to help provide for themselves why not get a reverse mortgage to get a similar amount to the pension, that is what should be done. I understand they wish to provide for their families but those very adult kids are able to provide for themselves as well.I get very angry when people think because you don’t have property paid by the time you retire it is because you have squandered or been on social security all your life. Just because we have been working does not mean we squandered our pays or gambled it away.
      Sometimes you only earn enough to get by & nothing for savings, wish we got the average $75k this is NOT the reality for many people as we try to survive on $42K gross for two of us paying rent $370 p/wk.
      There are single mums who don’t get support from the father of their children especially if they are deceased.
      Sometimes you try & work for yourself & find it goes belly up so wasn’t able to put money away, had to pay back debt over a number of years.
      Maybe working for someone else whose business goes belly up & they haven’t paid a full salary or your super into the fund so another instance of not providing for our futures. We were working but someone else’s failure devastating us & not being able to collect wage arrears much less super.

      We whine about our kids not having much compared to older people, but the kids of today will have what 50-55 years of accruing superannuation so even if they have similar setbacks they will get a good nest-egg at the end of their working life.

      The only ones I find real takers are the ones who find ways to stay on pensions/doles most of their working lives and have never worked enough to help the economy & teach their kids all the tricks on how to get on Social security, or the girls having kids deliberately to get assistance instead of working & paying taxes, these are the drains on our resources.
      So people who HAVE worked hard all their lives have no alternative but to put up their hands for help when they cant work any more and made to feel like failures.

      1 REPLY
      • I looked into getting a reverse mortgage, believe me i would have been financial suicide. On a fully paid for house all i would have been able to get was under $50,000, they then charge you mega interest which is compounding, if you ever are able to get yourself out from under they charge you an exit fee which they are legally allowed to double. I have already paid more than enough interest on my home in the time it took to buy it, and also 17.9% during the Hawke/Keating years. We all need somewhere to live and purchasing our own home gave us a little security for our retirement and we have to still pay rates and insurance etc which somebody who rents may not have to.

    • It’s not ‘luxury’ Kaylene to have enough to pay your utility bills and eat as well, perhaps those of us not lucky enough to have big wages all of our lives to ‘plan’ for our retirement should all just slash our wrists…that’s what the privileged seem to want!

    • I planned to the hilt and the ex managed to squirrel away the lot, never to be seen again – he or the money! As for rent in public housing, every time the pension goes up, Compass Housing (on behalf of Housing NSW) takes the lot so I’m back where I was before the increase!

    • some good news The Greens are willing to consider voting for the new savings proposal as the first stage of a wider reform to retirement incomes that will throw the spotlight on generous tax breaks on superannuation.
      The move builds support in the Senate to reverse the Howard government’s decision in 2006 to allow wealthier retirees to keep more of their pension payments even as their personal investments rise to as much as $1.1 million in addition to their family homes. In a clear sign a sweeping review is being planned, Treasury secretary John Fraser declared yesterday that the nation needed a fresh look at the interaction ­between super and tax and the entire welfare system.

  7. By the time you pay your rent food power phone pills trip to bris to see the dr (true hospital pays for the train ) but you still have to pay for taxis food etc I get to go see my grandkids once a year I would like to see more travel concessions for us fairs in bris are to dear

    2 REPLY
  8. Maybe some of you are lucky enough to own homes. Not everyone does through no fault of their own. Have you thought of sharing with a friend ? It not only gives you companionship but cuts costs.

    3 REPLY
    • Not luck Catherine Brown. HARD WORK! Single Mother of three! The harder I worked.. (30YRS!!!) the luckier I got. Head down, tail up!. I was 40yrs before I had saved enough for a deposit…at…17 1/2% Not fun but.. worth it.. Cheers.

    • Oh dear, Centrelink would love that, called a partnership, even if same sex, therefore; couples pension, a decrease.

    • Yep this is what they do. I was so damn offended when I was sharing a house with a female friend some thirty years younger than me. When asked by the twenty something if I was in a relationship with my friend, I was horrified then started to laugh and asked her if she really thought I looked like a lesbian cougar….silly sausage!

  9. Yes Fran Spears. It’s just surviving why aren’t the elderly in this country looked after properly ? After all those years of working and bringing up families who also pay taxes ? And I’m sooo tired of hearing its because of “”” our ageing population “”” want us to take a few sleeping pills. Mr Hockey ?????

  10. The help that I see that is needed is improved payments of essential services eg medical. I watched a pensioner being told an echo ECG would cost him $261 up front and then Medicare would give him a rebate that would leave him $45 out of pocket, he left without booking this because he did not have the money to pay upfront. I heard another say their medication bill is killing them. Instead of asking for extra cash in hand each week these services should be covered so that pensioners are not out of pocket. And greedy providers of essential services are not getting rich on pensioners. I was disgusted and brought to tears for our elderly who have worked to make this country what it is today, politicians give up your pension and live on the same amount as these people.

    4 REPLY
    • Politicians will never give up their pensions and that is why our Country is stuffed because the politicians are there for themselves not the country.

    • I have been here six years and still can not understand the Medi-care system and the fact they compare to NHS in my opinion is a joke…..I’d like to know what the cost of refunding costs and how many jobs it creates?

    • It should be mandatory for health care providers to have Medicare payments done automatically rather than leaving it up to individuals. It is efficient and useful to do it this way.

    • Abbott has not, and WILL NOT raise the Medicare Levy for all Health Professionals, therefore a lot of them have ceased to bulk bill Pensioners. We can blame the current Government if Pensioners cannot afford treatment.,and yet people will still vote for him. The health system is in crisis, and more bad news on the way!

  11. As of 1st of July, we lose our concessions, reinstate them, those rebates help so much….

    9 REPLY
    • I got just over $6 in the March concession, a lot of help that is…I have just given up my cardiologist as I was about $2 out of pocket, and when they want an appointment 2 weeks apart..I just cant afford to pay it…

    • Medicare is the problem, The rebate is pathetic, has got smaller & smaller over the years. If we don’t get more onto paying tax it will continue to get smaller. Those who pay Private DO help pensioners & low income earners, as we NEVER use medicare for our hospital bills. Our Health company pays the cost of the bed. & Operating theatre SO with out all these people Medicare would be worse off. Medicare doesn’t give as much as private system , If we go to Public Hospital our Insurer pays TWICE what Medicare allows for a bed. Private cost for theatre $600, Medicare $200.

    • Hmm, it does, doesn’t it, Judy, I am single, on a full aged pension, and received $4.64 for the fortnight!! I also thought Abbott said increases every March and September, I received my ‘March increase’ in April!!!

    • In S.A. as from the 1st of July, we are supposed to lose our concessions for water and sewerage rates, council rates electricty,and telephone..not sure about public transport…although they are not huge amounts, it certainly helps the budget when you rely on the pension…..

  12. Full aged pension is adequate for couple, particularly those who had a working life and lived sensibly, and planned. The “welfare system” in Australia is very generous.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *