23 December 2009


17 MAY 2009


The Rudd Government’s 2009 budget put forward the proposal to change retirement age from 65 to 67. What follows is an analysis of condescension, discrimination, homophobia, double standards and hypocrisy, to name some of the issues, from this government and its responses to the introduction of same-sex legislation in December 2008.

Dishonesty in the advertisement stating that couples are couples whether they are gay or straight is not only dishonest, it is an outright lie, and the government knows it too. It reflects the fact that the Advertising Standards organization, as operated in Australia, is a toothless tiger. The lie is that straight couples are able to register their relationships while gay couples are not – this is discrimination and homophobia!

The first item to examine in this litany of deceit is the matter of how the government has approached the proposed change of retirement age from 65 to 67.

An article in The Age newspaper on Wednesday 13 May 2009 reports that “. . . the Government will lift the pension age from 65 to 67 within 15 years and claw back more money faster from future pensioners who earn other income.” “Pension age to be lifted from 65 from 2017, rising by six months every two years, until 67 in 2023.”

“To start in September (2009), the increase will be worth $32.49 a week for singles (pensioners) and $10.14 per couple.”

The pension age increase is, in effect, grandfathered, meaning that between now and 2017, a period of 8 years, people who will become pensioners at that time will have been given 8 years’ notice of changes to occur.

Contrast this with the situation for the gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS (GLTH) communities who have not only been given only 8 MONTHS’ notice of dramatic changes to financial circumstances in their lives after a lifetime of having known they were discriminated against but were subject to ongoing governmental homophobia, by virtue of the fact that many, now in their 70s, 80s and older, will be “outed” by an irresponsible and reckless government who care nothing for these communities. The laws were promulgated in December 2008, and are due to come into effect on 1 July 2009, with the government agency Centrelink being able to pry into the private lives of some of the most vulnerable members of our society in order to find out whether they are singles or couples.

The most dishonest part of the government’s “couples are couples” advertisement is the fact that straight couples are able to register their relationships with civil or religious marriage rites, whereas GLTH couples are denied this basic human right and therefore show the government’s hypocrisy and lies by stating that “couples are couples”.

The next part of this behaviour is the statement by government that the same-sex legislative changes will be promoted through the media on a regular basis from December 2008 to July 2009. So far the straight media have been very silent on the issue other than the false and misleading advertisement with “gay and straight toothbrushes” which is also as demeaning as it is false.

In a letter written on 11 May 2009 from the office of the Hon. Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, the following is the second paragraph:

“During the 2007 election campaign the Prime Minister, the Hon Kevin Rudd MP, announced that legal discrimination against same-sex couples should be removed, including from social security law. The Government announced its intention to remove same-sex discrimination, including in the area of social security, on 30 April 2008. The Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – General Law Reform) Bill 2008 was subsequently tabled on 4 September 2008. The Government has staggered the commencement dates for the reforms to provide a period for individuals and couples to adjust to their new financial circumstances”.

So, 8 months is considered a “period for individuals and couples to adjust to their new financial circumstances” after a lifetime of discrimination and restrictions on financial arrangements for people in same-sex relationships, but 8 years is considered a reasonable time for working people to make arrangements for their retirement years in 2017.

This is homophobia writ large – not surprising considering other actions by this government to prevent equality by every means available by stating in the strongest possible terms that there will be no registration of same-sex couples federally, thus ensuring inequality remains entrenched, thus contradicting Rudd’s statement that “legal discrimination against same-sex couples should be removed, including from social security law.”

Considering that the government has no idea whatever of the numbers of GLTH couples there are in the community, how are they able to assess the costs to government of the changes about to take place in 6 weeks’ time? This is their method of ruining the lives of countless old and vulnerable people who know very little of what is happening with legislative changes and who will be in great difficulties when Centrelink starts prying into their lives.

No members of this government have publicly addressed this issue in any way and have refused to consider the grandfathering that has been requested of them.

Homophobia and hypocrisy will continue to dog the elderly, frail, disabled and impoverished in the GLTH communities in the days, weeks, months and years to come.

This government should be ashamed of the way it has handled these legislative changes.

Many community organisations were not consulted and it is dishonest to say that there were consultations across the board, and the most vulnerable were not consulted at all!
Mannie De Saxe, Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne.

Changes to Age Pension qualifying age Published in News for Seniors Summer 2009 Issue 80

The qualifying age for Age Pension will be gradually increased from 65 to 67. The qualifying age will increase by six months every two years, commencing from 1 July 2017 and reaching 67 on 1 July 2023. These changes will not affect anyone born before 1 July 1952. Everyone born from 1 January 1957 will have an Age Pension age of 67.
The age pension age increase is part of the Secure and Sustainable Pension Reform package. The increase reflects improvements in life expectancy and helps meet the challenge of an ageing population. It is projected that by 2049, 22 per cent of the population will be over 65 years of age, compared with around 13 per cent today.
The table below describes the gradual increase in the qualifying age for Age Pension and includes the current increase from 60 to 65 in the women’s qualifying age.
Born Women eligible for Age Pension at age Men eligible for Age Pension at age
Before 1 July 1935------------------60------------------------------65
1 July 1935 to 31 December 1936-----60&1/2--------------------------65
1 January 1937 to 30 June 1938------61------------------------------65
1 July 1938 to 31 December 1939-----61½-----------------------------65
1 January 1940 to 30 June 1941------62------------------------------65
1 July 1941 to 31 December 1942-----62½-----------------------------65
1 January 1943 to 30 June 1944------63------------------------------65
1 July 1944 to 31 December 1945-----63½-----------------------------65
1 January 1946 to 30 June 1947------64------------------------------65
1 July 1947 to 31 December 1948-----64½-----------------------------65
1 January 1949 to 30 June 1952------65------------------------------65
1 July 1952 to 31 December 1953-----65½-----------------------------65½
1 January 1954 to 30 June 1955------66------------------------------66
1 July 1955 to 31 December 1956-----66½-----------------------------66½
From 1 January 1957-----------------67------------------------------67


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Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm