WIDE Bay MP and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has sparked a national storm by suggesting too many seniors are blowing their money on luxury cruises and then going on the pension.
Gympie and the Wide Bay, the electorate that keeps him in his job, has a high proportion of pensioners and retirees who are doing it tough.
Mr Truss told a conservative club breakfast in Brisbane that 1100 people a week, in their mid-60s were moving on to the age pension, with many accessing their super from age 60 and squandering it.
"Increasingly, the lifestyle and the savings for superannuation are being seen as an opportunity to enjoy a few cruises and the luxuries of life for a few years until it runs out and then people wish to fall back on the age pension," the Nationals leader said.
Gympie pensioner Jan Areora is not impressed.
She says retirees have earned the right to enjoy their superannuation how they please, but that many pensioners can't even afford to dream about taking a cruise.
"I am probably one of the lucky ones - I've got my super as well," she said. "But my aunt has to exist on the pension alone and she lives from fortnight to fortnight.
"Politicians like Mr Truss would not have a clue about living on a pension, and until they do they shouldn't say anything. They have never had to struggle."
Mr Truss said the government had been forced to act because the aged pension would become unaffordable as the population aged.
"People quite rightly work their entire lives with the expectation the age pension is there at the end of their working lives as a safety net," he said. "We have to make sure that safety net is secure, and capable in the future of catching the people who need it."
His comments have been condemned by representatives of Aussie seniors who have also attacked the Budget.
The Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association yesterday released modelling showing the impact of the budget changes.
"Modelling shows that within five years pensioner couples will be more than $100 a fortnight worse off and singles $75 a fortnight worse off in real terms if pension indexation measures announced on Budget night are introduced", spokeswoman Amelia Christie said.
The new pension indexation is scheduled to start on September 20, 2017, after the next federal election.