Selfish boomer outrage
GYMPIE MP David Gibson was spinning his wheels yesterday as he fought to manage public outrage across Queensland at his remarks about “selfish baby boomers” expecting younger generations to pay for their retirement.
And his predecessor, Gympie’s only Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher – the man who gave Australia the age pension so strongly criticised by Mr Gibson this week – would have been similarly spinning in his grave.
“Buy shares in Telstra,” Mr Gibson joked at his own expense yesterday as he fielded radio interviews and returned angry telephone calls from all over the state. “I’ve had about four million phone calls today.
“I apologise unreservedly for any offence people may have taken,” he said.
Mr Gibson said he had been trying to make a point about the need for population growth to fund pensions, at a population forum.
DAVID Gibson promised he would accept the inevitable political pain from his “badly worded” foot-in-mouth comments on the tax burden faced by Generations X and Y to fund age pensions for baby boomers.
“The point I was trying to make – and did very poorly – was that to fund the retirement of baby boomers we need more young taxpayers.
“We need more people to move here and we need more babies.
“As baby boomers move into retirement, the tax base to fund their retirement is necessarily smaller, making a much larger taxation burden for Generation Xs and Ys.
“My comments were made in the context of a population growth forum and a position being put forward that we should have zero population growth.
“The taxes paid by baby boomers were not saved by governments of all political parties to fund their retirement, so the challenge when arguing for no population growth is that without growth we can’t fund their retirement.
“The deal was ‘I pay my taxes and the government funds my pension.’
“Governments were happy to take the taxes but they didn’t do their part of the bargain.
“It’s clear that I should have worded my remarks better,” he said.
“I’ve been doing radio interviews across the state. It was never my intention to pick a fight.
“I unreservedly apologise.
“I am ringing back absolutely everyone who has contacted my office and, so far, of everyone I’ve rung back, only one said she did not want to speak to me when her husband answered the phone.
“The response has been generally that people either understand where I was coming from or they say ‘You’re an idiot, but thanks for the call.’ One email even said sorry to me for the way he had spoken to my staff.
“We all make mistakes,’ he had said and I said I completely understood. Another said ‘I don’t like what you said but I’m impressed that you rang.”
Mr Gibson made a plea for more free debate on important issues in Australia and for politicians to be forgiven when they say the wrong thing from time to time.
“I know I will cop political pain but we need to have debate and we can’t be frightened of saying the wrong thing sometimes,” he said.