David Gibson at his Parliament House office, returning scores of angry phone calls and emails after his “selfish boomer” gaffe.
David Gibson at his Parliament House office, returning scores of angry phone calls and emails after his “selfish boomer” gaffe. Contributed

Gibson's trial not over

GYMPIE MP David Gibson was on the verge of re-opening the “Generation Gap,” which divided and damaged Australia for many years, it was claimed yesterday.

National Seniors CEO Michael O’Neil said Mr Gibson had demonised a generation which had paid its taxes, creating the risk of “inter-generational warfare.”

It is a reference which will be especially poignant for many “baby boomers” who, growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, will remember the bitter enmity within a large proportion of Australian families over issues ranging from fashion and music to drugs and war.

Yesterday Mr O’Neil said members of Australia’s 50-plus age group would have to take at face value Mr Gibson’s apology, over his attack on the pension rights of people he called “incredibly selfish” baby boomers.

But Mr O’Neil said his generation would wait to see if Mr Gibson really means the apology which appeared to get him at least partly off the hook last week.

Mr Gibson risked alienating one of Australia’s largest ever voting blocks and easily the most powerful group in his own electorate, when he told a population forum at the Sunshine Coast that baby boomers were wrong to expect his generation and his children’s generation to support them in their retirement, claiming they had “done nothing to prepare themselves for retirement.”

It was a stupid thing to say, as Mr Gibson readily admitted the next day. He said his remarks were made in the context of a population forum at which the view was expressed that Australia should have zero population growth.

Mr Gibson said the looming retirement of a large number of baby boomers (usually taken to mean those born in the decade after World War II, when the country experienced a boom in its birth rate) would put an unsustainable burden on the smaller numbers of Generation Xs and Ys, who would be paying the taxes to support them.

He said governments had been happy to take the taxes of the boomers but had not put the money away for pensions.

“It’s clear that I should have worded my remarks better,” he said.

“The test will be in how he moves forward with future comments,” Mr O’Neil said yesterday.

“Hopefully he has learned some lessons about being more cautious in what he says and about better understanding the issues.”

Mr O’Neil said the boomers were the first generation in Australian history to make efforts to fund their own retirements.

Gympie Times


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