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 and leaving a better place for those coming after us.

Our primary concerns are income, aged care, health, and housing.

We also have an emphasis on the conduct, ethics and morality of politicians. In this light we want to see the concept of "servant leadership" and the adoption of the "Fitzgerald Principles" on the ethical conduct of MP's.

Our polices are designed to benefit all seniors and in particular self-funded retirees, superannuants and pensioners. But we also see that by benefiting seniors we are also benefiting all members of society.

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

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CORE PRINCIPLE

"Servant Leadership" - we "Lead to Serve"

What is Servant Leadership?

Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve. This is different from traditional leadership where the leader's main focus is the thriving of their company or organizations. A Servant Leader shares power, puts the needs of the constituents first and helps the government develop and perform as highly as possible. Servant leadership inverts the norm, which puts service to the constituent as the main priority. Instead our current atmosphere where it appears we are serving the politicians, the politician exists to serve us, the people

A. SPECIAL POLICY (State & Federal)

1. 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.

1.1. Salaries

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.

1.2. 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.

1.3. 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.

1.4. All MP's to Sign the Fitzgerald Principles

See Item 2 under "Other Policies" below.

B. CORE POLICIES

1. Retirement Income

1.1. National Inquiry into Retirement Income

The Seniors United Party calls upon all sides of politics to set up an independent national inquiry into all facets of retirement income with a special emphasis on the adequacy of the age pension and the superannuation industry. We believe that both streams should compliment each other and that the main principle of superannuation should be a secure and adequate income stream in retirement.

1.2. Superannuation

The Seniors United Party of Australia calls on the Government to reverse the changes to superannuation as announced in the 2017 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 reverse this provision. 
  • We especially oppose the 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 national, fully independent and external inquiry is held on retirement income.

We believe that the superannuation guarantee charge should be progressively lifted from the current 9.5% to 15% over a 10 year period.

Successive Federal Governments from all sides of politics need to stop seeing superannuation as a goldmine with which they can interfere with when their own budget strategies don't work out and  when the economy gets into trouble.

1.3. Franking Credits

The Seniors United Party is totally opposed to the Labor Party's proposed wind back of imputation credits and proposes an exemption from this policy for every one over the current statutory retirement age.

1.4. 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 to 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. We are also concerned for people who work in physically demanding occupations whose body may start to break down well before 67 years eg building trades, mining, etc.

1.5. Assets Test 

The Seniors United Party opposes the changes to the assets test threshold that was announced in the 2016 budget that affected 326,000 retirees, especially those on a part Age Pension.

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

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

1.6. 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 60 years old.

2. Health

2.1. 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.

2.2. Medicare Rebates for General Dental

2.3. No 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.

2.4. 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. 

2.5. 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.

2.6. Reduction of Public Hospital Waiting Lists (NSW)

Public hospital waiting lists are too long and unacceptable. This places a heavier burden on seniors more than any other section of society due to age-related health conditions. Having to wait for more than 12 months for some procedures is just unacceptable in this day and age.

Seniors United calls for an immediate injection of funds in order to reduce hospital waiting lists including redirecting funds into this area from building 2 new stadiums which are an unnecessary expense to the NSW taxpayer. (See Item 7 in "Other Policies")

3. Aged Care

(Royal Commission announced 16/9/18)

3.1. Retain Registered Nurses in Nursing Homes (NSW policy)

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.

3.2. Mandatory minimum staff to resident ratios in nursing homes

People in nursing homes are at their most vulnerable time in their lives. Pre-school children are also at a very vulnerable time in their lives but pre-schools have mandatory minimum staff to pupil ratios. The same logic is valid for nursing homes.The Seniors United Party calls on all parties to implement mandatory minimum staff to client ratios in nursing homes.

3.3. Restore the Massive Budget Cuts to Aged Care Facilities

The Seniors United Party of Australia strongly opposed the 2016 budget cuts of $1.2b in subsidies and the $0.6b announced in the 2016 mid-year economic statement to Aged Care facilities (Nursing Homes) for patients with complex needs and calls upon the Government to reverse these changes.

3.4. 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. 

3.5. Parliamentary Inquiry into Aged Care -(Royal Commission announced 16/9/18)

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

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.  

3.6. National Palliative Care Scheme

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.” 

4. Housing

4.1. Retirement Living Communities (Retirement Villages)

4.1.1 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.

4.1.2 National Ombudsman

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

4.1.3 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 the security of tenure and a more efficient complaints mechanism for residents.

4.2. Social & Community Housing

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

C. OTHER POLICIES

1. Reform of Parliament

Over the last 20 years there has been a propensity of Prime Ministers and Premiers to create are too many Ministers, Assistant Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, Committees and other positions in order to reward allies and placate factional groupings. This situation has got so rediculous now that there are only 5 real backbenchers in the Federal Parliament on the Government side.

This means that a backbencher's salary is bumped up every time thy sit on a Committee, become a Committee chairperson, a parliamentary secretary, assistant minister and then a Minister. Their expenses and superannuation are also increased as well.

The Seniors United Party believe that this is a huge disincentive for MP's to remain ethical and work on behalf of their constituents. The huge salaries and multiple layers of perks such as business-class airfares, 4-5 star accommodation, motor vehicle allowances and over generous superannuation, that can be taken immediately on leaving parliament, and other allowances do not provide an environment for MP's to adhere to the principle of"servant leadership and work solely for their constituents.

The Seniors United Party will reform parliament by cutting the number of Ministries, abolishing Assistant Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, abolishing dodgy positions such as 'Special Envoys' and reducing the number of Committees. WE see that this will streamline the way parliament works and make it more efficient.

2. 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: https://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.

3. Establishment of a Royal Commission into the Banks

(This has now completed - the report is under review)

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.

4. Immigration & Population

Seniors United does not support the idea of a "big Australia". We believe that the current immigration system is broken and needs a complete overhaul.

4.1. Establish a National Commission of Inquiry into Australia's Future Population

A national co-ordinated approach is required in order to establish a benchmark for sustainable population taking into account food security, water security, economic security and national defence.

4.2. Immediate Reduction in the Immigration Intake

Over recent years the immigration levels have been so high that infrastructure and services have not kept up with the growth of our cities. Sydney and Melbourne have taken the majority of the burden of the huge influx of new migrants which has led to road congestion, bad planning decisions, overcrowded schools, a high demand on health services and in part has contributed to higher house prices. In order for a "breather" and a catch-up to take place immigration levels need to be reduced immediately from the current 190,000 per annum down to 2004/05 levels of 120,000 per annum. This should be maintained for at least the next term of parliament or until the outcome of the National Inquiry into our Future Population.

4.2.1. A Reduction in the Skilled Migration Intake - Australians in jobs first.

The skilled migration program over the last 6 years has been a failure. Employers have exploited loopholes in the visa system and brought in cheap overseas labour to the detriment of local workers. The 457 visa system was a prime example where employers ignored the "market test" and the Government turned a blind eye. Criticism of this program forced the Government to abolish this visa type but they immediately introduced another category, 482, which was basically the same.

Seniors United will reduce the skilled work visa numbers and enforce a "market test" on employers so that they at least try to recruit locals first.

4.3. Adoption of a Canadian-style Immigration System where the States have a large say in how many skilled migrants they take

In Canada there is a system where the Provinces (States) discuss with the Federal Government what their needs are in terms of economic migrants (skilled) for the following 12 months. In this way there is a much more orderly immigration system that also concentrates on settlement in rural areas where there are identified skill shortages.

Giving the provinces a greater immigration policy role  has helped to dramatically shift the settlement of immigrants beyond Canada’s biggest cities.

According to immigration statistics, 34% of economic migrants in 2017 landed in destinations outside Canada’s three most populous provinces, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia – compared to just 10% in 1997.

After immigrants arrive, the key issue for the provinces is retention, since immigrants can leave at any time. The provinces put a strong emphasis on ensuring that economic migrants receive a strong welcome on arrival and are provided with support programs, including education, access to local migrant community networks and assistance finding a job for those who are not sponsored by employers.

5. Defence Procurement

Defence procurement is a huge area of Government spending in the order of $billions per year. The announcement in 2016 by the Government of a $50b future submarine project is a prime example. This project has already blown out its initial cost estimate, it will not employ large numbers of Australians and it will not be delivered until the 2030's and by that time likely to be obsolete. tHere are critics who claim that the submarine design is not "fit for purpose". There is a strong need for more governance and oversight of major defence procurement.

5.1. Establish a Parliamentary Defence Procurement Oversight Committee

The immediate establishment of a bi-partisan parliamentary defence procurement oversight committee which will monitor all major defence procurement on a regular basis and report directly to parliament twice per year.

5.2 A Review on the Current Future Submarine Project

There is some strong criticism around on the current French design for our future submarines. A complete review is required in order to confirm or not the design for fit-for-purpose and value for money.

6. Veterans

The men and women who join our defence forces to service their country deserve our gratitude and recognition. As part of the public's "contract" with veterans is the recognition that when they are injured while in the service of their country, whether that is on home soil or overseas, that Australia will look after them with adequate medical and financial support.

(Specific policies under discussion and will be published soon)

7. No Government Funds for Stadiums (NSW policy)

The Seniors United Party opposed Government funds being spent on stadiums in NSW. We believe that sporting organisations and their sponsors should be the ones paying for these facilities. The use of public funds on such facilities is not an effective or efficient way to spend the people's money and favours only a portion of the NSW population.

Seniors United believe that the money saved from not funding the stadiums should be redirected to reduce public hospital waiting lists and other Government services such as social housing which would help seniors immensely.

8. 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. 

9. 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.

10. 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 in the same way that SBS does.