Policies of the Seniors United Party of Australia

The policies of the Seniors United Party Of Australia are aimed at securing a better and fairer deal for all seniors.

Our primary concerns are retirement income, retirement living, aged care, palliative care, seniors health, Medicare and seniors discounts.

Our polices are designed to benefit all seniors and in particular self-funded retirees, superannuants and pensioners.

You can read a more in depth explanation of a selection of our policies below. More policies will be rolled out as the election progresses.

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Retirement Income

1. Superannuation

The Seniors United Party of Australia calls on the Government to reverse the announced changes to superannuation as announced in the recent budget:

  • We strongly oppose the decision to backdate a lifetime cap on contributions to superannuation to 2007 which breaches the long-standing convention that no major changes to superannuation would be applied retrospectively and call on the Government to drop this provision. 
  • We especially oppose announcement of the Transition to Retirement scheme changes which would see income earned on the pension side of that scheme taxed for the first time at 15%.  We see this as a disincentive for workers over 55 to take this scheme up so that they can reduce their working hours leading up to full retirement.
  • The Seniors United Party of Australia opposes any further changes to superannuation until a full independent and external inquiry is held on retirement income.

Successive Federal Governments from all sides of politics need to stop seeing superannuation as a goldmine with which they can interfere with and access when the economy gets into trouble.

2. Aged Pension

Criteria - the Seniors United Party of Australia calls upon the Federal Government to desist and stop changing the criteria for the aged pension. This causes confusion amongst seniors and causes disruption and amongst those planning for their retirement. We call upon the Government to streamline the criteria in order to make it easier for seniors to understand their entitlements.

Pension Age - the Seniors United Party of Australia opposes any further increase in the official retirement age after 67 years old and feel that it is unfair to keep increasing the retirement age when people getting close to their retirement have been planning this for some time and find these changes disruptive and upsetting.

3. Assets Test 

The Seniors United Party opposes the changes to the assets test threshold that was announced in early May 2016 and confirmed in the recent Federal budget that will affect 326,000 retirees, especially those on a part Age Pension.

We believe that this is a retrospective change to the Age Pension rules which hits retirees receiving a part Age Pension the hardest. In most cases, these retirees are not in position to return to work to replace the income they will lose from 1 January 2017.

The Seniors United Party is totally opposed to any future move to include the family home in the assets test. 

4. Mature Age Employment

The Seniors United Party of Australia calls for the adoption of policies that will see a real uptake of mature age employment and condemns successive Governments for their previously poor policy design and implementation of schemes that would have seen the employment of more mature aged workers.

We also call upon Federal and State Governments to do more to quash age discrimination in employment and to implement a national education program for employers about the advantages of employing older workers.

We also call upon the Government to introduce concessional income tax rates for mature age employees over 65 years old.

Health

1. Medicare Rebate

The Seniors United Party of Australia opposes the freeze on the Medicare rebate for GP's and calls on the Government to reverse it.

2. Co-payments for GP and Pathology Services

The Seniors United Party of Australia opposes the introduction of any co-payments for GP and pathology services.

3. National Dementia Strategy

The introduction of a national dementia strategy so that people sufferers and their carers can get a consistent and more focussed level of care. 

4. National Strategy to Identify and Address Elder Abuse 

Research suggests that over 50,000 people in NSW may have suffered some form of elder abuse be it physical, neglect, psychological, sexual or financial.

It is estimated that only 1 in 5 cases of elder abuse is reported. The alleged abusers are normally trusted family members.

The Seniors United Party of Australia will implement a national strategy to identify and address this.

Aged Care

1. Retain Registered Nursed in Nursing Homes

The NSW Government wants to withdraw registered nurses from our nursing homes. There is currently a moratorium on this move. We believe that this move will put high dependency patients at risk of earlier death an that these patients will end up being sent to public hospitals that clogging up an already strained system thereby making it worse for everyone.

2. Restore the Recent $1.8b Budget Cut to Aged Care Facilities

The Seniors United Party of Australia strongly opposes the recently announced budget cut of $1.2b in subsidies and the $0.6b announced in the mid-year economic statement to Aged Care Facilities (Nursing Homes) for patients with complex needs and calls upon the Government to reverse these changes.

3. Oppose the Privatisation of Accreditation Services to Aged Care Accommodation

The Seniors United Party of Australia strongly opposes the privatisation of accreditation services for aged care accommodation.

The June 2015 edition of “The Voice” reported that the Australian Government had announced that the accreditation of aged care accommodation (i.e. nursing homes), would be privatised.

"Typically, one in eight assessments is found to have exaggerated the care needs of nursing home residents”

A recent review of the N.Z. privatised system revealed that providers seek out more lenient accreditors that accept lesser standards, and as a result care standards have dropped. 

4. Parliamentary Inquiry into Aged Care

The Seniors United Party of Australia will strongly push for a full parliamentary Inquiry into aged care.

The outgoing Senate ordered an inquiry into the future of the “aged care” workforce, however, we believe that a full inquiry into the whole aged care industry is required so as to identify the most cost effective policies that will support our aging population moving into the future. 

Seniors United is a strong advocate for the creation of a well managed aged care sector designed to provide an adequate level of patient care balanced within a sensible and sustainable economic commitment. We believe that this will be best achieved by a full parliamentary enquiry into this industry and by the resultant creation of strong legislation that is not unduly influenced by those who might seek to profit from the industry.  

Palliative Care

The Seniors United Party of Australia will advocate and push for the establishment of a fully funded comprehensive National Palliative Care Scheme, thereby providing a much needed service to the nation as a whole, to seniors in particular, and a saving to the national health budget.

We note that recently the NSW Government's Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI), together with NSW Health, analysed the figures for hospitalisation in NSW and found that in the last year of life, the average number of days spent in hospital for someone is 40 days which is a high impost to the national budget. The cost of these hospitalisations is over a billion dollars annually. 

We note that in surveys consistently show Seniors overwhelmingly wish to die at home (60-70% in some surveys) and yet the real statistics show that only 14% die at home as there are not enough services to support and assist them there so they are transferred to the hospital system.

Dr. Yvonne McMaster (OAM) retired Palliative Care specialist and now lobbyist stated:- “ By providing more comprehensive support to people in their own homes, patients would be able to live as well and symptom-free as possible, their families would be supported and the government would save billions of dollars.” 

Housing

Retirement Living Communities       

1. National Model Legislation

The Seniors United Party of Australia will advocate and push for national model legislation to encourage and assist operators and residents to live harmoniously in communities which ideally will encompass aged care access and other identified services.

2. National Ombudsman

The Seniors United Party of Australia will advocate and push for the establishment of a National Ombudsman to manage minor differences of opinion should they arise,  to assist the present state-based Tribunal decision process.

3. National Inquiry into Other Residential Establishments

The Seniors United Party of Australia will advocate and push for a national inquiry into of other types of retirement living facilities such as Over 55's Estates, Residential Villages (Caravan Parks) to specifically look into security of tenure and a more efficient complaints mechanism for residents.

Social & Community Housing

The Seniors United Party of Australia will push for the provision of more social and community housing to ensure an adequate supply of housing for seniors and that waiting lists for placements are reduced.

Politician's Remuneration & Entitlements

The Seniors United Party of Australia calls for a drastic change of Federal politician's remuneration including all entitlements i.e. salary, superannuation, accommodation, travel, office expenses, etc. 

SUPA does not believe that the Remuneration Tribunal has properly reflected the views of the public or community expectations when it comes to politicians’ remuneration and entitlements.

Salary

We believe that politicians are paid far too much and that their salaries should reflect public expectations with a formula comprising multiples of the “full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings”. Backbencher salaries would commence at two times full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings which works out at about $160,000 a year. At this time this would involve just over a 20% cut to the current backbench salary of $203,000. Other multiples would apply for the Prime Minister and Ministers, etc, using the same base determined by the independent review. We also believe that politicians’ salaries should be fixed for the whole term of each parliament. Members of parliamentary committees would not receive extra allowances.

Superannuation

Particular attention must be paid to politicians’ superannuation which should reflect the same levels and outcomes as all other employees in the country eg the superannuation guarantee of 9.5% and not the highly generous scheme that they have access to now. We believe that politicians should not be able to access their superannuation until at least their preservation age or their retirement age like all Australians.

Travel and Other Expenses

Changes must occur to the rules surrounding entitlements with a view to tightening these so that they can be audited within strict criteria. Only expenses that are directly related to a politician's actual parliamentary duties should be reimbursed. Expenses, which are taxpayers’ funds, should not be used for attending sporting matches or movie premiers or similar as has been reported in the media. There would be no provisions for ‘entertainment expenses’ of any kind. All politicians would be required to publish their expenses on their official website in real time so that their constituents can see them. Relatives of politicians would not be entitled to free travel and accommodation. The travel allowance (TA) used when politicians and staff are in Canberra for parliamentary or committee work, or in other parts of the country, would no longer be provided as a flat rate but would be reimbursed on production of actual receipts.

Establishment of a Federal ICAC

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has served the State of NSW well in recent years, investigating and uncovering corruption by public officials, NSW politicians and Ministers.

The Seniors United Party believes there is a very strong case for a Federal ICAC to do the same good work of uncovering corruption at the Federal level.

Transparency International's ranking for corruption in Australia has fallen in recent years from 6th to 13th;  see: http://transparency.org.au/ Professor A.J. Brown of Transparency International recently said “The big gap is in the lack of a federal anti-corruption agency to really cover the gaps that we know exist in terms of public officials and parliamentarians being covered by the right sort of oversight".

To believe that corruption by public officials does not take place at a Federal level is both naive and irresponsible.

Tony Fitzgerald QC, the former judge who headed up the Fitzgerald Enquiry into corruption in Queensland developed a questionnaire to test MPs about their attitudes towards accountability, integrity, nepotism, deception and the spending of public money. But the response from MPs was underwhelming, with just 53 of the 226 signing up to the so-called "Fitzgerald Principles".

"The refusal of a majority of politicians to commit publicly to normal standards of behaviour puts the need for an effective anti-corruption commission beyond doubt," Mr Fitzgerald said. No Coalition MPs - who are often instructed not to take part in surveys - signed up.

Seniors United strongly believes that a federal ICAC would help restore the public's eroding faith in federal politicians and institutions and that all MPs should sign up to the Fitzgerald Principles.

The Fitzgerald Principles

  • To act honourably and fairly and solely in the public interest
  • To treat all citizens equally
  • To tell the truth
  • Not to mislead or deceive
  • Not to withhold or obfuscate information to which voters are entitled
  • Not to spend public money except for public benefit
  • Not to use your position or information gained from your position for your benefit or the benefit of a family member, friend, political party or other related entity

After so many instances of corruption by public officials at the State and local levels over the past 20 years, the Seniors United Party of Australia expects and demands that all federal parliamentarians commit to the Fitzgerald Principles, and agree to and establish a Federal ICAC.

Establishment of a Royal Commission into the Banks

The Seniors United Party calls for the immediate establishment of a Royal Commission into Australia's banks as we have seen over the last decade many instances of fraud and malpractice in the banking system and a associated entities where seniors have lost tens of thousands of dollars and sometimes their entire retirement nest egg.

More Access to Education for Seniors

The Seniors United Party of Australia will push for more funding for education for over 55's. We strongly believe in lifetime learning in order to promote an active life and mind and to help reduce issues like isolation and loneliness.

Organisations like University for the 3rd Age (U3A) provide great opportunities for learning but are basically run by volunteers. Small cash injections would help groups like this to expand and provide more learning opportunities for seniors. 

Affordable Access to the Internet

The Seniors United Party of Australia calls on the Government to enact policies that would allow affordable connections to the Internet for seniors in order to give them access to modern communications that would then allow them to:

  • to keep in contact with family and friends using better technologies such as video so as to reduce the tyranny of distance and loneliness;
  • keep up to date with a wider selection of news outlets;
  • being able to access to a wider variety of educational services by utilising online capabilities; and,
  • being able to access information from special interest groups and different hobbies.

Establishment of a Seniors TV Channel

The Seniors United Party of Australia has today called for the establishment of a publicly funded and run “seniors” TV channel to be established by 2020 along the lines of similar to the NITV, SBS, ABC2, and radio 2JJJ.

The station to have specific programming for seniors from organisations like ACOSS, NCOSS from each state, the Council of the Aging, the Federal and State Departments of Aging, Seniors Australia, the Combined Pensioners & Superannuants Association, documentaries on health issues for the aged, cooking for seniors, nutrition, exercise and lifestyle programs for the aged, hobbies, etc.

The TV channel should be staffed as much as possible with mature aged staff and presenters in order to boost employment in this sector.

The channel to be funded from advertising at the same rate as SBS per hour.