About 300 pensioners, unemployed people and sole parents attended a rally called by the Fair Go for Pensioners Coalition on May 21.
Marion Lau, deputy chairperson of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, spoke of the injustice of the federal government’s plan to force workers, including those in heavy manual jobs, to work to the age of 70 before they can get the age pension.
Victorian Labor MP Jenny Mikakos said the federal government’s planned cuts to the health system would lead to even longer waiting lists. She also criticised the Victorian government for increasing public housing rents and selling public nursing homes.
Youth worker and community activist Les Twentyman spoke of how he will be affected by the increased price of medicine. Due to health problems he spends $120 a week on medication. This will rise by $35 a week.
Twentyman also spoke about people in Melbourne who are unable to afford food or rent. Some are forced to live under bridges. They need help in dealing with housing, education, family problems and other issues.
Kerry Davies, from the Council of Single Mothers and Their Children, said the Labor government had started the attacks on single parents, which the Coalition government is taking much further. She said: “We will have to take to the streets again and again until we have won.”
National Union of Students education officer Sarah Garnham spoke about plans for unlimited university fees and cuts to student welfare.
Greens MP Adam Bandt said pensioners pay high taxes on petrol for their cars, but mining companies pay very low taxes on diesel for their trucks. He said the Greens will “stand firm” and block the budget in the Senate.
Theo Nomikos, representing the Federation of Greek Elderly Citizens, addressed the rally in Greek.