OLDER Australians could be forced to wait beyond the next Budget for a long-overdue pension boost promised by Treasurer Wayne Swan.
After a horror day on the financial markets and predictions of a worldwide recession, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signalled that pensioners may to have to wait beyond the May Budget for a much-needed pay rise.
Five days ago Treasurer Wayne Swan vowed there would be extra money for older Australians in the 2009 Budget, but Mr Rudd and Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner yesterday refused to commit to the same deadline.
Mr Rudd said the Government was committed to working hard to "get it right" but didn't put a date on delivery.
Earlier, Mr Tanner shocked pensioner groups when he would not speculate on a pension increase and said he was not in the business "of handing out guarantees".
Brisbane pensioner Daphne Ogden, who voted Labor for the first time in her life last year, said she had put her hope in Labor and felt like she had been betrayed.
Mrs Ogden, 73, who worked in a bank to put her children through private school, said she hoped Labor would help "the less fortunate".
Charmaine Crowe, of the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants, said the Government's position on a boost to pensions was an "unacceptable" change.
"Let's face it, pensioners have been calling for an increase in the pension for years," she said.
"The pension is not enough and something has got to give because the rising cost of living is so detrimental to pensioners at the moment that it is just ridiculous."
National Seniors chief executive Michael O'Neill said he was dismayed that there could be a shift.
"There will be anger across the community if our most vulnerable older Australians, who currently survive on $281 a week, are the first to be fobbed off in this financial crisis," Mr O'Neill said.
Mr Rudd said the Government was working on long-term plan to help pensioners.
"We're going to do it in a proper way, in a systematic way, once we've got all the numbers right," he said.
Mr Rudd admitted the worldwide downturn was going to cut government revenue, but insisted that pension reform was a priority.
However he did spell out that lifting the pension was expensive work and that a $30-a-week rise for millions of pensioners would cost $24 billion over four years.
"Every $10 increase across the board is $2 billion on the bottom line for one year," he said.
Mr Rudd said the Government was committed to responsible economic management and ensuring all Australians – including pensioners – enjoyed a stable banking system.
The Federal Opposition has been pushing an immediate $30-a-week rise for single aged pensioners.
Mr Swan, who is in Washington, last Sunday gave a clear commitment that pensioners would be looked after in the upcoming Budget.
All I have to say to that is if they get rid of all the politicians perks, especially the post-office ones they will save themselves billions of dollars. Hypocrites of the highest order. The Greens (for years) and family first recently have been trying to get the pension increased but the Howard Government always ignored them, while the Labor opposition never made a big fuss about it.
I'm on a Carer's pension because my father is disabled and there's no other way to get care for him. If they keep fucking around with this I probably will go out and get my old job back or a new one, preferably something with statistics. I can't continue to live like this. This is supposed to be the lucky country but it's only lucky if you're a politician or know the right people to get ahead in life.
I think we need to go down the path of the UK who have a Minister for Carers and a Minister for Disbability. In the U.K there is a "Motability" scheme to help the Disabled and Carers get a car at an affordable rate, instead of buying one they are leased to you for a minimum of 3 years at an affordable rate. Comprehensive insurance, routine servicing and breakdown assistance are included. The cost of this is already added on the Pension as a "mobility allowance". Why we don't have this in Australia I don't know.