It’s election year and time the pollies stopped treating seniors as second class citizens…

Politicians really should cease treating seniors as second-class citizens.

Seniors are called on to justify their living standards, their assets, their spending and even their holidays if they want to be part of Australia’s tight-rein pension system.

Centrelink workers perform a tough job, noting, listing, tracking and checking activities of senior citizens. Seniors who’ve worked all their lives, inside the law and paid their dues and taxes.

Centrelink gets down-and-personal with senior citizens – because governments require it. That’s Governments of all political persuasions. Governments made-up of politicians who do not have to endure the same Big Brother demands made on the rest of us.

Politicians do not have to face Centrelink red tape or the demand for personal detail and financial records and constant updating of bank and investment records. And even explanations of long holidays.

Really, what a pathetic, unfeeling way to treat law-abiding, retired and responsible Australians by governments who claim they are listening to the people.

In Australia, pensioners’ assets determine their pension levels. Everyone who has accumulated reasonable wealth after paying great taxes is due nothing from Big Brother. 

For qualifying pensioners, the family home – so far – is exempt from being assessed for pension or part-pension. Unless…….

Unbelievably, if seniors decide after their lifetimes’ work to take their dream caravanning trip around Australia, they may be severely penalised with pension cuts. 

Staggeringly true, as Have a Go News readers were advised by Hank Jongen, general manager, Department of Human Services.

“If you are temporarily absent from your principal home, it can still be considered an exempt asset for up to 12 months,” he said.

“However, if you are travelling around Australia for more than 12 months, this is where we need to look at whether your principal home is the one on the ground or the one on wheels.

“If you have vacated your principal home for this entire time, Centrelink may decide your caravan or motorhome is the exempt principal home and your family home will become an assessable asset.” (You could lose your pension!).

The Australian Government has determined that they can cut pensions of retirees who have chosen not to live in their family home for more than a year and go off for a long holiday.

And if you should rent out your family home while you’re away and don’t declare the rent to Centrelink, you’ll be in strife. If you do declare any additional income, as demanded, your pension will likely be cut.

Oh, should you update your car, caravan or anything else, make sure you tell Big Brother. Centrelink needs to know if your assets are growing so your pension can be cut accordingly. 

But if you do buy a car, your accounts – on which your pension is based – will at least show less and you may pick-up a small pension increase.

This is the way solid, senior citizens are being lorded-over by politicians whose incomes and generous retirement benefits keep them from falling into the clutches of Big Brother Centrelink.

I wonder, is your local federal MP aware of this disgraceful demand or how you feel about it? 

Considering the billions of taxpayers’ dollars spent by the government in Australia and, generously, supporting other countries citizens, politicians are mean-minded – or at the very least, blinkered – about senior citizens.

Australia’s pension system and Big Brother demands and expectations are unduly harsh. There are people who find it so daunting they opt out and miss out on what is rightfully theirs. After their working lives and in their golden years (ha-ha) of retirement.

How much of Centrelink’s money, energy and time would be saved if they were relieved of the many overbearing, unnecessary, unfair and cruel demands of the pension system?

All assets are considered: Real estate, financial and superannuation investments, income streams and business assets plus the market value of cars, boats and caravans 

When ABC radio opens its microphones to pensioners’ tell-all stories, heart-felt cases of suffering came tumbling out, in dealing with the system, in not being heard and the undue stress at being overlooked or trodden-on. 

Pensioners talk of battling with the system, having to provide immense financial records and details and then having to update them. Being treated like naughty schoolchildren.

Pension assessments should be simple and fair, easy-to-follow and bear-in-mind pensioners’ lifetime commitments and their contributions, past and present. Seniors deserve respect. They’re not getting it from politicians.

If everyone bombarded their politicians with their grievances, governments might take note.

P.S. You can check you’re not breaking the law through Centrelink’s Financial Information Service or by attending their seminars. Go to                    

Tell us what you think – email write to Have a Go News PO Box 1042, West Leederville 6901.

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Journalist, commentator, broadcaster and author. Lee, columnist for Have a Go News has reported for The Australian Financial Review, The Australian, The West Australian, Sunday Times, Albany Advertiser, Melbourne Herald, Launceston Examiner, Business News and national magazines. Lee has covered federal politics, industrial relations and national affairs. A public speaker, newspaper columnist and author of two books, Lee co-hosted 6PR’s current affairs radio. He also co-founded a stable of national business newsletters. Lee is former communications manager for a non-profit, mental health carers’ organisation.