Changes To Age Pension Portability Discriminatory Says COTA
From January 2017, pensioners will have their pension reduced if they’re abroad for six weeks or more. Last week legislation to change Age Pension portability passed the House of Representatives. If the changes pass the Senate, the number of weeks an Age Pension recipient can be outside Australia before their payments are affected will be reduced from 26 weeks to six.
The changes are part of the government’s policy to reduce the cost of social services.
Many have called the changes mean and discriminatory particularly as it affects older people who migrated to Australia and still have family in their original counties.
COTA believes the change is excessively punitive and inequitable in its impact on Australians not born in this country and who maintain cultural and familial ties to their place of birth. As around 40 per cent of Age Pensioners were not born in Australia the impact of the measure is likely to be significant and unfairly borne by one segment of our community.
Ian Yates CEO of COTA Australia said: “We know from our members and constituency that it is not unusual for older Australians born overseas to take ‘the one big trip’ to their country of birth when their working lives are over. They make the most of their time there, given the cost of travel, spending an extended period seeing family and friends before returning to Australia. COTA does not see this as unreasonable.
“We are also aware that some retirees, particularly in later life, travel to their country of origin when a relative or close friend is gravely or terminally ill, or indeed when they themselves may be in such circumstance and would benefit.