Lismore residents Col Clark (left) and Neville Clarke say they're lucky, having invested and saved money before the pension.
Lismore residents Col Clark (left) and Neville Clarke say they're lucky, having invested and saved money before the pension. The Northern Star

Pensioners feeling the pinch

KEVIN RUDD, Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan have all admitted they couldn't survive on $273 per week – the money they are giving to our aged pensioners.

Lismore retirees Col Clark and Neville Clarke have told The Northern Star they are able to manage – but only because they have paid off their homes and supplement their pensions with investments and savings.

“I'm a bit lucky because when I retired I got my long service and sick leave paid out and invested that,” Neville Clarke said.

“I get a bit from that and that helps with the pension. Otherwise I'd be down the drain with the rest of them if I was living on just the pension. I'd be really scraping. I wouldn't be able to play lawn bowls or run a car.”

However, for David Selsby, who is on a disability support pension and getting the same rate, things are a lot tougher.

Mr Selsby pays $265 a fortnight in rent, puts away $40 a month for electricity and spends about $50 a week on food.

One of his biggest problems is transport. He lives at a caravan park near the Lismore Airport and is able to get a lift into town three or four times a week. But to get home he has to get a taxi, which costs him $14, or catch the bus.

Although the bus only costs him $1.40 with his pension card, the walk from the bus stop takes him another 40 minutes because he has a bad leg and has to keep stopping.

Mr Selsby is not impressed by the Prime Minister's announcement there won't be any additional payments for pensioners to help them cope with the rising cost of living.

Mr Rudd said any increase would have to wait until a review of pension and carers payments was completed in February next year.

“I reckon we should get at least another $40 a week,” Mr Selsby said.

Lismore Combined Pensioners and Superannuants group President Jim Parker said the increase needed to be about $50 a week.

“It's hard to put a figure on it, but it needs to be increased,” he said.

“It's not enough to live on, especially the single pension. People who are married and own their home are probably all right. But the cost of living and the price of petrol is going up, making it harder for us on what we're receiving. Something has to be done, especially for single pensioners. For those who are renting, I don't know how they survive at all.”

During a speech in Brisbane yesterday, Opposition Leader Dr Brendan Nelson confirmed the Liberals would try to introduce legislation next week to increase the pension to $303 a week.

The Greens are also calling for an immediate $30 a week increase in the single aged pension.

Greens Leader Bob Brown said the Government could have funded a pension increase instead of giving foreign tax cuts to the 'big end of town'.

“Senior politicians can say 'we couldn't live on that amount, but we're going to ask 1.2 million pensioners to do so for another nine months'. That's not fair,” he said.



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