I want to take the opportunity to speak out on behalf of close to 100,000 aged pensioners in the Illawarra, the South Coast, the Shoalhaven and the Southern Highlands areas in which I live, represent and am fighting for. Since May 2014 they have been victims of quite a silent but effective war on their livelihoods by this government. The attacks, indirect, on their livelihoods and wellbeing—freezing Medicare rebates, cutting hospital spending and attacks on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme—are bad enough.
When you look at the cuts to indexation proposed in the 2014 budget and continued since then, the attack on deeming rates, which have not kept pace with the changes in the broader market and are affecting part-pensioners, and the plan to axe the $14-a-fortnight energy supplement as power prices go up and up and up, these initiatives are bad enough. But the big one that has people hopping mad is the plan by this government to make Australia have the highest retirement age of any of the countries that we like to compare ourselves to—higher than the United States, higher than Canada and higher than Great Britain. They want to make 70 the retirement age in this country.
I'd like to cite a good citizen from the Illawarra: one Bobby Turner. He went to sea at the age of 14 and knows what hard work is. And he nailed it. He said, 'Only a bloke who has worked as a merchant banker for his entire life thinks that you can work to the age of 70 and not have your body break down on you.' Bobby knows what it's like to work with his hands and his back his entire life, and he's sending a message to the Prime Minister that this plan is just not on