OPEN LETTER TO RUDD AND HIS MINISTERS
The Hon. Jenny Macklin MP
Minister for Families, Housing
Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
The Hon Chris Bowen MP
Minister for Human Services
Minister for Financial Services,
Superannuation and Corporate Law
Reference: 204 400 081X
I refer to you undated letter headed “Changes to your pension” and the contents of some enclosures.
As an 83-year-old age pensioner I am heartily sick of the correspondence I have been receiving from both you two ministers and Centrelink since your government amended legislation in December 2008 regarding same-sex relationships and demanding that we register our relationships by 1 July 2009 or face penalties.
In item 2. Income test changes, the following bulleted items appear:
• A new transitional rate will apply to protect existing pensioners who would otherwise have had a reduction in their payment. These pensioners will receive an increase in their pension and will remain on this transitional rate until they are no longer worse off under the new rules.
• This new transitional rate will be subject to Consumer Price Index (CPI) increases in March and September.
We became part of a campaign which demanded that the federal government provide transitional rates for those who had very little warning of how the new legislation would impinge on their lives after lifetimes of work and social conditions which consisted of ongoing homophobia, abuse, violence, medical interventions, and economic hardships where same-sex couples had to make arrangements for their older years in order to cushion themselves for retirement where heterosexual couples automatically obtained various benefits which were taken for granted by those communities.
Item 7. Increase in Age Pension age states:
• The qualifying age for the Age Pension will be gradually increased from 65 to 67. This increase will commence from 1 July 2017. The new Age Pension age of 67 will be fully effective by 1 July 2023. The change will not affect current age pensioners and it will not affect people born before 1 July 1952.
Interesting, is it not, that the federal government is able to provide this transitional arrangement for another of its unpopular pieces of legislation, but refuse to do the same for a bunch of gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS members of our communities because they are homosexuals for the most part and are therefore well in this government’s homophobic radar sights.
If you demand that we provide information about our income changes, send your watchdogs to us and let them trawl through our huge incomes to see what assets we are not telling Centrelink about and thus depriving the federal government of vast amounts of income. At the age of 83 – and my partner is 87 – I believe that at my time of life I am entitled to some peace of mind and not continual badgering by government about my financial situation.
We had our pension incomes reduced from 1 July 2009 when we declared, quite openly and honestly, that we were a “couple” to use the government terminology.
We now demand the right to have marriage added to our equality demands to ensure that we are on an equal footing with every other citizen of Australia.
Let’s see how Kevin Rudd and the rest of your government cope with THAT demand.
Equality is equality and is indivisible. Sexual apartheid from the federal government is simply not an option and your government might remember that it is presumed that the Australian government is secular and not governed by the bigoted religious right which seems to permeate much of this parliament’s thinking and actions.
Mannie De Saxe, Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne
PO Box 1675
Copy to Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister