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PS pensioners act as elections near

Tens of thousands of retired public servants are being mobilized to push for better pensions.

Tens of thousands of retired public servants are being mobilized to push for better pensions. Photo: Jessica Shapiro

Tens of thousands of retired public servants are being mobilised in the election lead-up to push for better pensions.

They say it is unfair their income is not keeping up with the cost of living, in contrast to pensions for former MPs.

The campaign is being ramped up by John Coleman, federal president of the Superannuated Commonwealth Officers' Association.

The association represents former federal public servants while former and current serving members of the Australian Defence Force are represented by the  Defence Force Welfare Association.

Around Australia, there are about 300,000 former public servants and defence force members, with about 30,000 in the ACT.

Mr Coleman met politicians in Canberra on Thursday to push the case for improved indexation of his members' pensions.

He told them the average pension paid to his members was $27,400, whereas the poverty line reported in June last year by the University of Melbourne was $28,786 per year for a couple.

Linking pensions to the Consumer Price Index was insufficient to keep up with the real cost of living increases, he said.

''I am trying to get both parties to realise … this issue affects more than 300,000 people, right across the country and about half of those people reside in marginal seats.

''There is an electoral opportunity for either party to seize.''

Mr Coleman said the CPI has not reflected actual price increases for years. ''It's adjusted downwards wherever there is a product improvement,'' he said. ''That means the CPI doesn't increase in line with actual prices, for example with a new motor vehicle. The price of the new vehicle might go up by 5 per cent but if the new model has a product improvement such as air bags, then the percentage increase in the price movement would be adjusted downwards to reflect the value of those air bags.''

Mr Coleman said the aged pension was benchmarked to movement in wages in 1998.

''Governments of both political persuasion have acknowledged the CPI is not an appropriate index for pensions, which is why the Coalition changed the way the aged pension is indexed back then,'' he said.

He said any politician who entered Parliament before 2004 would have their pension indexed in line with a higher benchmark than the CPI.

''Most of the politicians from both sides of Parliament who are making the decision not to give us what we say is a fair index, will have their pension indexed by movements in parliamentary salaries and allowances, so they have a double standard,'' he said.

Mr Coleman rejected arguments the country could not afford to give better pensions to former federal public servants.

The association will target Labor and Coalition marginal seats, where it estimates the number of affected voters - its members - exceeds the margin by which the seat is held.

Eden-Monaro, centred on Queanbeyan, has around 13,000 affected pensioners, Mr Coleman said.

He praised the lobbying done by Labor Member Mike Kelly, a former ADF member.

16 comments

  • I receive a Comsuper pension. The person quoted does not represent me.

    Commenter
    Clair
    Date and time
    July 05, 2013, 6:26AM
    • As the population ages (and heads to a peak in numbers for those born around 1968), costs associated with pensions and Superannuation will increase.

      It is important for Gen Y to understand this - that no one is going to look after them and if they are saving now for their retirement then they will still be job hopping into their 70s.

      I, for one, am looking forward to my 60th birthday when PSS pays me back for all the love, care and attention I have given to it over the years.

      Commenter
      Outraged of Palmerston
      Date and time
      July 05, 2013, 7:02AM
      • Me Me ME - stuff everything else and lets send the country broke

        Commenter
        JazzyJeff
        Location
        Lismore
        Date and time
        July 05, 2013, 7:23AM
        • Its not about ME its about a fair go. Comsuper pensioners have been conned, ridiculed and demeaned. Some with additional assets and resources are comfortable but the majority fare better on the old age pension despite years of compulsory contributions. These are Australians, taxpayers, and responsible citizens who have helped make Australia what it is today. They deserve better treatment.

          Commenter
          Syndrome
          Location
          Canberra
          Date and time
          July 05, 2013, 9:08AM
        • I'm sure you will have an entirely different view when it is time for you to retire, unless you are an ex-politian or one of the Packers.

          Commenter
          Bronte
          Date and time
          July 05, 2013, 10:28AM
        • If lucky will not be on old age pension (and that is not what they are talking about) but am not in the highest paid industry in country (ie. Federal Public Service) with the best super schemes - even at the poor lowly rate the APS now receives (rather than a previously indexed pension) it is still 6.15% better than your average mug. Also before you say you would be better paid in the private sector it must be all the plum private sector jobs in the ACT which makes it have the highest wages in the country. Again ME ME ME.

          Commenter
          JazzyJeff
          Location
          Lismore
          Date and time
          July 05, 2013, 1:53PM
      • I live on a superannuated pension of 12 grand a year and do not get any help from the government even though i worked for the federal govt. I am under the age of retirement due to illness and cannot get help, who in the government is going to man up and strengthen the health sytem for workers forced to pay into super but unable to access govt programs because of under pension age and illness. Other countries look after ALL their retired workers OUR government just shelve us and hope we go away by dying.

        Commenter
        naughty nanny
        Location
        north batemans bay
        Date and time
        July 05, 2013, 8:09AM
        • Here here. My military pension is also linked to the CPI rather than the inflation rate and 13 years after retiring from the RAAF is worth barely more than it was back then. Just got my latest increase the other day with a whopping 0.6% increase. As an example electricity prices have gone up something like 45% in the last 5 years (along with similar rises to all our other bills) and my pension has increased by less than 5%. You would never see a politician copping crap like that on their pensions.
          Is it any wonder no average person will ever be able to fund their own retirement. Politicians recently got something like a 40% payrise, with followon benefits to their pensions, they retire on around 60% of their salary as a pension and it is indexed to inflation. Just how is that fair??????

          Commenter
          TuffGuy
          Location
          Canberra
          Date and time
          July 05, 2013, 8:17AM
          • Oh to find that genie in a bottle and ask nicely, please can I be a refugee or illegal entry person.

            Commenter
            SHUT UP, I'M INTERUPTING
            Date and time
            July 05, 2013, 9:06AM
        • The recent pension increase of 0.6% is beyond a joke. My pension went up $3 a fortnight, yet the cost of living has gone through the roof. Is it any wonder that people have no respect for politicians when they have no idea what it is like to live like this? They walk away from their jobs with massive pensions, and could care less about the rest of us, It's a completely unfair system.

          Commenter
          SamTucan
          Date and time
          July 05, 2013, 9:33AM

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