Seniors say pensioners hit too hard by budget
THE federal Budget is "full of little nasties" for retirees, largely through hits in health and social services, National Seniors officials said in Gympie yesterday.
Gympie region's zone of the National Seniors organisation met at the Gympie RSL Orchid Room.
"We're concerned at any attack on services," national branch and zone relationships manager Mark Furness said.
"Unfortunately, people on a full pension really don't have an opportunity to tighten their belts any more.
"People talk about the heavy lifting, but the effect on benefits and pensions will be much greater, proportionally, compared, to people on higher incomes," he said.
On health, the organisation says consumers will be hit by the cumulative effect of substantial increases in safety net thresholds and co-payments and the extension of the much-speculated GP co-payment to pathology and imaging services.
"The cumulative costs of these health changes will be keenly felt by older Australians on small, fixed incomes," chief executive Michael O'Neill said.
"In the pension area, moves to rein in costs through indexation changes, eligibility threshold freezes and the resetting of deeming thresholds are pushed out to 2017.
"Pensioners won't feel the full weight of the first Hockey budget until then," he said.
"The decision to defer pension changes for three years is important because older Australians can reject them at the ballot box," he said.
"On the bright side, the government has announced Restart, a $10,000 wage subsidy over two years to businesses that hire mature age people, including pensioners.
"Raising the pension age can only produce dividends if job opportunities exist for older Australians.
''We need a suite of initiatives to tackle community attitudes, promote flexibility and remove age-based legal impediments to work," he said.
National Seniors has 200,000 financial members. It is Australia's largest consumer lobby for over-50s and fourth largest in the world.