Pension pledge 'hot air'
THELMA Carroll isn't surprised that the Rudd Government is keeping the detail of its long-awaited pensions review under wraps.
The Tweed Heads West pensioner said the Government's pledge last year to increase the single pension rate by $30 per week was “a lot of hot air” and was convinced any funding relief for struggling pensioners would be a long way off.
“I'm not surprised they are not releasing the report because my feeling is they had no intention of increasing the pension rate,” Mrs Carroll said.
“It upsets me that they committed to increase the rate just for single pensioners, when as a couple we have to pay twice as much for food and bills.”
The Harmer Report, compiled by the secretary of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jeff Harmer, was handed to the Rudd Government last Friday.
But instead of making the details of the comprehensive review of all pensions public, the report has been kept under wraps with the Rudd Government to deliver its response as part of the next Federal Budget in May.
More than two million Australians over 65 receive a full or part pension.
“We know the world is in financial crisis, but in the last few weeks (Prime Minister Kevin) Rudd has given millions to people living overseas, but we ... believe that money should be spent helping out our own.”
Mrs Carroll, 75, and her husband Terry, 73, receive an aged pension of about $1040, including rent assistance, per fortnight. And from that they pay $626 in rent, leaving just $414 to pay bills, buy food and run their car.
“Thelma writes a budget every fortnight and sticks to it, that is how we get by,” Mr Carroll said.
Speculations about the recommendations included in the Harmer Report include a possible increase to the pensionable age and a reduction in payments if personal assets exceed a threshold.
The Harmer Report and the campaign for an increase to pensions across the board will be discussed at the Tuesday meeting of the Tweed Pensioner Action Group.
Terri Bradley, organiser of the group and the weekly pensioner food drop held at Chris Cunningham Park today from noon, said welfare recipients needed to work together to fight for improved conditions.
“We need to let the politicians know that we are not going away. Pensioners are living on the poverty line and deserve more.”
Tweed Heads South campaigner Don Morgan said he believed the Rudd Government would deliver on its promise even in the current economic climate.