In Ballarat, there are 19,217 people receiving the aged pension. These pensioners have spent their lives working hard and raising their families. They are our older friends, family and neighbours.
In March and September each year, these pensioners would ordinarily expect a modest increase to their payments to help them meet increases in costs and living expenses.
This September, however, will be the first time in almost a quarter of a century that pensions will not be increased. By the time next March rolls around, it will have been a year since the pension rate has changed.
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The government says this is because of the way the pension indexation is calculated. They say there is no need for the pension to be raised, but they clearly haven't spoken to any pensioners.
Pensioners, and indeed all of us, know that prices haven't stayed the same over the past six months. We've all seen medical and heating bills continuing to rise and the price of fresh food and vegetables jump 5 per cent.
With so many of us spending all of the cold Ballarat winter in our homes, many pensioners have also faced the choice of paying more on their energy bills or putting up with the cold. These costs add up, and the pension needs to keep up.
The pension has only ever provided a modest income. Pensioners know exactly how much they will receive, and they know exactly what they will have to spend it on. Many would have pencilled in September but the Prime Minister's pension freeze has let them down.
We know that our economy is in trouble - locally and nationwide. Pensioners who receive a little bit extra each month wouldn't be sticking it in the bank, they would be spending it at local businesses and on local produce.
These aren't ordinary times, so many are doing it tough. Pensioners have spent this year knowing that they are at higher risk from coronavirus, and that means many of them have spent more time indoors and isolating than even the rest of us have.
It is simply wrong for the Prime Minister to snatch money out of the pockets of pensioners when the country is in recession - the government should be supporting local jobs, businesses and pensioners.
To deny them now a small helping hand by increasing the pension - as it is increased every other year - is nothing but petty cruelty.
The government should immediately reconsider, end their freeze of the pension and help pensioners balance their budgets and support jobs and local businesses.
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