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[Labor's plan for older Australians: comment]

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Association of Independent Retirees, Inc.




To-day, Ray Trestrail, National President of the Association of Independent Retirees, commented on Labor’s Plan for Older Australians. He said, “Labor’s Plan fo r older Australians is a poor effort. Most of the new initiatives have either been implemented by the Coalition, such as pegging full pensions to 25% of the male total average weekly wage, or they simply match the same benefits offered in the Coalition’s tax reform plan such as refundable excess imputation credits. Otherwise they revert back to the pre-1996 system when they simply threw money at a problem without much success. The one minor, marginable benefit is that they will not tax the allocated pension or annuity funds.”


Mr Trestrail went on to say, “Labor claims that the greatest benefits to Older Australians is that they are introducing Tax Reform without a GST. There is no doubt that a GST will increase the price of some goods and services but the Government is offering to compensate by various means such as removing Wholesale Tax and many other taxes. How long can we sustain the current welfare system without real Tax Reform. Labor proposes to pay for their initiatives by taking more money from consolidated revenue which really means the taxpayer. Many older Australians are taxpayers with low incomes but they will not be eligible for Labor’s Tax Credits even where they are on the same incomes as those in the workforce. Perhaps older persons are expected to live cheaper than younger people.


Health Services are one of the major concerns of the elderly. Public hospitals need more money but private health insurance schemes can reduce the public health costs and older persons have a right to have hospitals and doctors of their choice at it reasonable cost. Paying PHI and the medicare levy is basically a form of double taxation.


The proposal to turn back Aged Care to the pre-1996 system makes no sense. There has been many advances in Aged Care in the past two years. Accreditation for Aged Care facilities and funds for the Staying at Home scheme are two of these improvements.


It particularly, does not make sense to treat fees for hostels completely different to fees for nursing homes. There is absolutely no reason why the user pay system should not exist in nursing homes as fees paid makes money available for new homes and the upgrading of existing ones. To eliminate fees for nursing homes makes no sense. Labor has attempted to distort the situation by quoting the maximum fees, which are only paid by the well-to-do, rather than the average fees. The current daily fees are means tested and although there needs to be a re-examination of those fees paid by part-pensioners and low income non-pensioners, those who can afford to pay should, to ensure there are sufficient, high standard beds available for those elderly persons who need them.


Labor’s Plan for older Australians rates about three out of ten.”


5 September 1998


Contact: Ray Trestrail - Phone (02) 6041 5260, Fax (02) 6041 5443.