From The Editor (The Area News 2 June 2008)
SENIORS HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO BE UNHAPPY
THE announcement of a campaign, Lend a Pensioner a Hand, to assist Griffith's senior residents comes at a time when the plight of this country's pensioners is firmly in the news. (see story below)
So outraged were many of Australia's 3.5 million pensioners with their treatment in the Federal Budget that they have tossed aside their zimmer frames and taken the fight to the Rudd government, demanding the respect they deserve for making this country for what it is today.
That up to 300 elderly citizens in Melbourne stripped to their underwear and blockaded the city's CBD is indicative of the passion surrounding the issue. After all, who in the community are more susceptible to the rising cost of living than pensioners?
Rising grocery prices, rising rents and rising fuel prices - especially in a city like Griffith with such a poor public transport system - are all placing elderly residents under the pump at a time when they should be spending their golden years on the golf course, playing cards or gardening without a worry in the world.
The sudden verve and vigour these golden oldies have pursued the government with following the Budget has taken Prime Minister Kevin Rudd by surprise, as he firmly believed he had seniors well and truly covered.
Pointing to the one-off lump sum payment of $500, the increase in concession allowances from $218 to $500 and the rise in the utilities allowance from $107.20 to $500, the PM said older people had never been better off.
But despite these measures, it remains that more than 40 per cent of seniors surveyed by Newspoll believe they will in fact be worse off because there was no increase in the base pension rate. What many pensioners are calling for is a 10 per cent increase in the pension rate to bring it up to 35 per cent of an average weekly wage.
Is that an unreasonable request given the government just announced a $22 billion surplus? We think not.