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Pensioner rally protests assets test

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Senator Tony Messner Shadow Minister for Social Security



During the first six months of the Hawke Labor Government, Australians had witnessed the most savage attack upon the aged in Australia's history, it was claimed today.

Senator Tony Messner - the Shadow Minister for Social Security - was addressing a lunchtime rally of pensioners at the Melbourne Town Hall.

"Through making major and fundamental changes in the retirement income field, the Government had persisted in creating confusion and anxiety amongst pensioners, retired people and those approaching retirement."

Senator Messner said that the Labor Party had done a somersault on the asset test issue.

"Eighteen months ago, the Leader of the ALP described asset testing as

1... another kick in the teeth for aged and retired citizens as well as half a million widows, invalids and supporting parents'."

"The Labor Party would do well to remember those words today.

"Obviously, when it decided to change leaders, the ALP also saw fit to throw out its compassion and concern for the welfare of aged Australians."

Senator Messner said that, despite promises made during the election campaign, the Hawke Government had deserted pensioners.

"It has failed to deliver its tax cuts, it has failed to lift the tax-free threshhold and it has failed to honour its commitment to immediately adust pensions to take account of CPI rises."

Senator Messner said that confusion would continue to result from the Government's actions in the retirement income area because it failed to recognise the need for a co-ordinated approach to such policies.

"Such an approach can only follow a comprehensive enquiry like the Senate enquiry the Opposition has initiated."

Senator Messner warned pensioners not to play into the hands of the Government in their call for a royal commission.

"Unlike Senate enquiries, there is no compulsion for Governments to respond to the reports of royal commissions."

"That's why the corridors of power in Canberra are littered with reports of such commissions which have not been studied or implemented

MELBOURNE 20 September 1983