Push to Raise the Pension

Reporter: Jonathan Creek

If a society is judged by the way it treats its elderly, ours is no shining example. Today Tonight's campaign to "up" the aged pension began with Betty Moore's plea for a fair go. Since then, more than 33,000 people have signed our online petition.

Famous faces joined the fight and now Greens Senator Bob Brown is demanding Kevin Rudd come good in the next budget. "They are squeezed by rising rentals, by rising food costs, by rising transport and medical costs and they haven't had a real rise above the cost price index since the mid 1990s," Bob Brown said. The Senator thinks a $30 a week increase would be good. Paul Vestegeen of the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association wants more.

"What they need is an $80 increase a week to bring them up to a level where they have a modest standard of living," Paul said. "That's nothing flash, that's just normal things, basic things that people need." Often issues like this mean little if you're not directly affected. So how many mums and dads of Federal Politicians survive on the pension?

Most Labor MPs we contacted refused to provide details. Five had parents who have passed away. Chris Bowen's mother and father receive a part payment. Julia Gillard's receive a pension from the Welsh Government. Unfortunately, the majority of Liberal members' parents have passed away. Brendan Nelson and Julie Bishop both have one parent living, neither of whom receives a pension.

Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey didn't bother to get back to us. "Everyone can tell you the pension is too low," Paul added. "It's obvious. We really need to have some action on behalf of the Government this problem and fix it very, very soon." Doing its bit for our struggling pensioners is Maroochydore IGA, the store offering a 10 per cent discount on all items after becoming aware of the plight. "We've made a commitment and it will be there indefinitely" says Nigel from IGA.

For Len Elson and Bina Morris, the discount makes a world of difference. "I reckon it will amount up to quite a bit over the year," Len said. "I've been studying it a bit, probably $2-300 a year and that's quite a bit of money to us." "We buy the best from here. My husband come everyday to get paper and get fruit for me because I eat fresh fruit every morning," Bina said.

Busy saying "sorry" and planning the nation's future, Mr Rudd has done little so far to ease the burden of 1.2 million aged pensioners, forced to survive on $270 a week. Considering he has a budget surplus of $20 billion, it's never been more affordable. Without doubt, there'll be funds available to comply with the Kyoto Protocol. "According to calculations by the Combined Pensioners it would take 250 years for the pension to get up to a level where people could afford the basic things until they got that," Paul said.

Further information

You can add your voice: leave your name and we'll add you to our petition: Petition to help pensioners

Visit the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association website for information on the group itself.