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Thursday, 16 February 2012
Page: 1691


Mr NEVILLE (HinklerThe Nationals Deputy Whip) (09:30): I rise to enter into the record a would-be petition deemed by the Petitions Committee to be out of order as it is not in the appropriate form. The would-be petition was coordinated by the National Union of Retired Workers and records the concerns of 5,981, nearly 6,000, residents of Central Queensland regarding the cost of living for senior Australians. The would-be petitioners call on the parliament to recognise the significant hardship facing senior pensioners as they struggle with the rising cost of living. They also note that many seniors have not had the opportunity to build their superannuation funds like today's workforce and, therefore, are forced to live on the government pension. The signatories ask that the federal government help older Australians by (1) increasing the pension to 35 per cent of average weekly earnings; (2) indexing pensions on a quarterly basis; (3) prioritising health care for pensioners; and, (4), boosting aged care funding, amongst other claims.

Because of this government's tax and waste mentality times are extraordinarily tough for older Australians, particularly those on sole incomes through a government pension. The signatories ask that these issues be addressed as a matter of urgency because 'many senior pensioners are suffering significant financial hardship which affects their general health and wellbeing'. Many seniors are on fixed incomes and have little choice but to cut spending, often on essentials, when their water, petrol, registration, electricity, council rates et cetera are constantly going up. We are experiencing a higher cost of living thanks to poor economic management, particularly in the Labor-run states. In Queensland, household power bills have gone up by $700, drivers licence fees have doubled from $73 to $152 and registration fees have gone up by a massive 24 per cent.

This is an appalling state of affairs and I can assure the chamber that the claims by the people who have put in this would-be petition are reflected in the interviews I have in my office with people from a broad cross-section of pensioners and self-funded retirees, and also people on Newstart allowance. Seniors have made a lifelong contribution to this country and I think the petitioners have a good case and that we should at least give them a hearing. On that note, Madam Deputy Speaker, I seek leave of the whip at the table to have this petition taken into the record.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member for Hinkler is seeking leave for the documents to be tabled.

Leave granted.