BUDGET 2014: Pensioners cop it on the chin, but 'it needs to be done'

TOUGH TIMES: John Holland has to spend his money wisely. 

TOUGH TIMES: John Holland has to spend his money wisely. Photo MARK LOGAN

WITH the seniors supplement to be scrapped in July, pensions to be reined in after 2017, and the retirement age rising to 70 by 2035, some Orange seniors are still upbeat about the future.

Most of the changes announced as part of the federal budget on Tuesday will apply from 2017, including linking the pension with CPI instead of the male wage, three-year freezes to asset and income test thresholds and a reset of the income test threshold to $30,000 for single pensioners and $50,000 for couples.

The seniors’ health card will also become harder to apply for.

Part-pension recipient Andrea White said the country had to so something about the debt.

“I think there’s a lot of hardship there, but it needs to be done,” she said.

Mrs White said provisions should be made for elderly people who were ill or lived with a disability, but healthy retirees should contribute.

Retired diversional therapist Jenny Sams agreed action was needed and said she would have been happy to work until 70 if illness had not intervened.

“You have to run on a budget and they didn’t run on a budget,” she said.

She said future slowdowns in the rate the pension increased did not concern her.

“We don’t get much of an increase anyway and I’ve lived on it for five years,” she said.

Retired serviceman and truck driver Ted Dorsett, 66, said the changes were a good idea if the level of debt was high, but said he could not imagine having to drive trucks until he turned 70.

“And who would employ me as an office worker?” he said.

“I couldn’t be computer taught - I’m flat out working my mobile phone.”

However, other citizens were concerned about the loss of the seniors supplement, a payment ranging from $876 for singles to $1320 for couples to help them afford utilities bills - the payments will cease from July 1.

Pensioner Norma Pascoe said she would have to cut back on her expenses.

“Probably food because heating in Orange in winter is costly,” she said.

Pensioner John Holland said times were already tough and he already had to spend his money wisely.

“I haven’t had a holiday in such a long time - the only trips I’ve made in the last four or five years have been with the Orange Male Voice Choir,” he said.

“In the end, it’s what you can afford.”

Meanwhile, Orange Business Chamber president Tony Healey believed keeping older people in jobs until the age of 70 could have unexpected negative impacts on the tourist economy as fewer retirees holidayed.

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