Greens announce plan to lower pension age and increase payment rate

Australian Greens

Greens Welfare spokesperson Senator Janet Rice and Queensland Lead Senate candidate Penny Allman-Payne will today in Brisbane announce the Greens’ fully-costed plan to return the retirement age back down from 67 to 65 and grant every Australian Earlier Access to the Age Pension.

This comes in addition to the Greens’ recently announced commitment to raise the rate of the pension to $88 a day.

Senator Rice will join Penny Allman-Payne, who is on track to win Pauline Hanson’s seat in the Senate for the Greens, to campaign on issues that matter to Queenslanders, including the party’s plan to support older Australians.

Lowering the eligibility age will expand access to the pension for hundreds of thousands of older Australians currently living in poverty, and provide a well-deserved earlier retirement with guaranteed income support for people who have worked their entire lives on low wages in order to take care of their families.

Since the Rudd Government’s 2009 increase to the pension age from 65 to 67, Liberal and Labor have been failing low-income older Australians.

Across the country, thousands of older Australians approaching retirement age have limited capacity to continue working or have been excluded from the labour market entirely. Thousands more are in physically demanding, minimum wage jobs, forced to keep working an additional two years because of successive Labor and Liberal governments failing to give them the support they need.

Leader of the Australian Greens Adam Bandt MP says that if the Greens are successful in their campaign to kick the Liberals out and secure balance of power, they will use their leverage to push to ensure older voters and the working class aren’t left in the dust again by a future Labor government.

This is the first time the Greens have taken early-access to the Age Pension to an election, a call heard from older Australians who say they’ve been abandoned by Labor. The Greens announcement today in Queensland reflects the party’s optimism for winning Hanson’s Senate seat, the swing lower house seats of Griffith, Brisbane and Ryan, and belief that older voters especially in Queensland no longer feel represented by Labor or Liberal.

As stated by Adam Bandt MP, Leader of the Australian Greens:

“Nobody should be forced to work forever in this country, and nobody should retire into poverty. The Greens are proud to fight for the right to retire at 65 with an income that will actually pay the bills.

“There is a poverty crisis amongst older Australians, and it’s worse for older women, who are the fastest growing group facing homelessness.

“Older people who have worked in minimum wage jobs and in manual labour are being forced to look for work instead of enjoying the retirement they deserve.

“In balance of power, the Greens will fight to restore respect and dignity in ageing, and ensure that it’s rest and revitalisation, not poverty, awaiting people at the end of their working years. By making billionaires pay their fair share of tax, older Australians can retire earlier with dignity.”

As stated by Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens spokesperson for family, ageing and community services:

“The Liberals and Labor have abandoned older voters and working families across the country. There are hundreds of thousands of older Australians living in poverty, counting the days until their next birthday so they can finally reach pension age.

“Enabling earlier access to the Age Pension will reduce poverty in Australia, and support thousands of older Australians who deserve better from our government.

“Thousands of older working people are living paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to retire. Many are working for starvation wages, in back-breaking jobs – in manufacturing, in hospitality, in supermarkets, as labourers and salespeople – people who have worked hard all their lives and are being forced to wait an extra two years to retire. The Greens won’t make them wait any longer.

“Anyone who has ever struggled to put food on their table, or had to make a choice between paying the rent on time or getting the medication they need, knows how long an extra two-year wait really is.

“For too long, both Labor and the Liberals have pushed through policies that make the rich richer and have left everyone else behind. It’s time the government takes care of low income workers and older Australians.”

As stated by Queensland lead Senate Candidate Penny Allman-Payne:

“Here in Queensland we only need a 1.5% swing to win another senator, and if we win I’ll fight to make billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share to lower the pension age and raise the rate.

“I’m fighting to take Pauline Hanson’s spot in the senate because Queenslanders deserve someone who’ll fight for them, not a wealthy career politician who talks a big game then votes with the Liberals to screw ordinary people over.”

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