Pensioners rally for 'fair go'

Issue 

More than 200 pensioners rallied on the steps of Victoria’s parliament house on July 10.

The rally was called by the Fair Go for Pensioners Coalition, which has a list of demands on the state and federal governments.

Their demands on the federal government include a pension rise from 27.7% of average weekly earnings to 35%; improved healthcare measures, including medical, dental, optical, hearing, pharmaceutical and culturally appropriate services; and more funding for aged care services.

At the state level, they called for better pensioner concessions for utilities and council rates, free public transport for pensioners, and the reintroduction of the pensioner discount on motor registration.

Marion Lau, from the Ethnic Communities Council, said pensioners face financial hardship due to rising utility costs. She said many retired migrant workers have no superannuation, and are entirely dependent on an inadequate pension.

Father Bob Maguire said older people need self-determination, respect and to be treated as individuals.

Elizabeth Jensen, from the Council on the Ageing, said there was a need for affordable housing. She said pensioners should link up with young people facing similar problems, such as those on Newstart.
 
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union retired division member Frank Cherry said he was outraged by the federal and state budgets. He said pensioners got nothing while members of parliament got pay and superannuation raises. He contrasted the poverty of pensioners with the huge salaries of company CEOs.

David Cragg from the Victorian Trades Hall Council told the rally that the trades hall and the Australian Council of Trade Unions have endorsed the demands of the Fair Go for Pensioners Coalition. He said “governments of all colours” may use the existence of superannuation as an excuse to cut the age pension, even though many retired workers don’t have enough super to live on.

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