Any way you look at it, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s recent concession that the single aged pension was ''almost impossible'' to live on, while offering no immediate relief for pensioners, was a cruel thing to say.
Mr Rudd, his deputy Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan have all recently demonstrated just how out of touch they are with Australia’s struggling pensioners. The chorus of “me too” in regard to not being able to survive on the single pension is worse than unfair- it’s cruel.
What it was, was a craven example of how to manipulate the news media for positive ratings and be portrayed as sympathising with the aged, while delivering nothing but rhetoric.
The public taunting of pensioners for political purposes is something we should all feel deeply alarmed about, and a reason why lawyers need to speak up, to defend retirees who need a strong voice to argue for their rights.
Irrespective of your political leanings, there is substantial alarm in Australia right now about a crisis among our pensioners, and in particular the many thousands who struggle to survive on the single pension.
The issue should not be about this political party versus that party’s policies. Whichever party holds the Treasury benches controls the spending. Right now the Rudd Government, as the government in control of the Treasury benches, has the power to increase pensions.
It chooses not to do so at the moment, instead saying things should wait until the outcome of the Henry taxation review, due in February 2009.
Waiting for at least another five months is the “rational and reasonable” approach, Mr Rudd was reported as saying.
As a lawyer with a special interest in issues affecting the elderly, I would love to have Mr Rudd - if he is not off globetrotting again - sit in with some of my aged clients and explain this pension delaying tactic to them.
I would invite him, Miss Gillard and Mr Swan to spend a morning in my law office, where my elderly clients could explain how they plan to cope with the costs of Christmas and New Year on a pension being hammered by rising costs.
If pensioners were hoping for an early Christmas bonus from Mr Rudd, they will be sorely disappointed. “Kevin 07” as he was known pre-election, is now regarded by the media as “Kevin 747” who say he has more plans for overseas junkets than dealing with crises at home.
It is somehow mocking for Mr Rudd to publicly admit single aged pensioners are "doing it exceptionally tough", yet offer no relief beyond the 2.8 CPI increase implemented in September.
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