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Your views: on MPs, ICAC and Centrelink

Reader contributions

Today, readers comment on a stalled inquiry into MP entitlements claims, pensions and JobSeeker asset rules.

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Commenting on the story: MPs refuse to release documents to ICAC’s entitlements probe

Am I wrong, or is parliamentary privilege intended to protect members of parliament from legal attack for what they say in parliament, so that they can be free to speak their mind?

I am not aware of any provisions for it to also mean that they can get away with inappropriate use of public funds and interpret the regulations applying to the use of public funds to their personal advantage.

I look forward to the day, should it ever arrive, that we actually have politicians that we can trust, and who have their focus on the good of the community they are elected to represent, rather than on feathering their own selfish nests. – Peter Bleby

Commenting on the story: Govt now says Centrelink pensions might not go up, but won’t go backwards

Just typical, and so wrong.

Of course inflation is going to show a minus, but everyday prices on goods and services are not frozen. Groceries continue to increase, fruit and veg and property costs like rent, electricity and gas, repairs and insurance most definitely does affect pensioners.

So fair go! Pensions are always in the red so we will continue to go backwards in every sense of the word. Freeze everyday prices. – Deb Richards

This is pretty typically of our Government. Inflation  may not go up, but really do they think pensioners are getting such a great pension, with the prices of electricity, gas, and general living expenses now and they can say pensioners don’t need to get any more in their payments? – Cheryl Bernard

I’m a carer for my daughter and she is a disability pensioner.

As long as the coronavirus has been around we have been going backwards financially and going without certain food as everything in life has gone up.

We continue to pay rent and food but we get less for our money, so why do us pensioners have to be punished for being old or having disabilities?

We don’t get a choice to work. But we live below everyone in Australia. – Kim Smith 

Pensions are adjusted according to CPI indexation in March and September however, given the current pandemic and impact on businesses and supply chains, the cost of living will rise.

Recent analysis shows a decrease in CPI but, this will be short-lived and the cost of living in many areas will increase significantly.

Just like the unemployment figure, the govt has underestimated the CPI impact on our communities – especially pensioners.

Pensioners, both Centrelink and self-funded are already suffering financial hardship.

If consumers don’t have money to spend on essentials let alone some non-essentials, our economy will never recover and more businesses will disappear putting more strain on our welfare system. – Peter Ward

This might be all well and good for some, but we in our village have been advised that we are to pay an increase in our rent as of September.

This to me is like price-gouging. – Lorna Gorton 

Pensioners are the overwhelming losers in the COVID-19 economy. Economists acknowledge some business that are being propped up were insolvent prior to the pandemic, a situation that will lead to a wave of bankruptcies once the grants and subsidies are withdrawn.

Others, particularly in the trade or service industries, are offering discounts for cash in hand payments, or stipulating  ‘cash only‘ to keep their taxable income low enough to claim Government benefits. Some part-time workers claiming job keeper have doubling their income without increasing their hours of work. Job seeker income now is $200 per fortnight more than the pension.

Many on aged or disability pensions would love to work but are not given the opportunity, despite their abilities and education. They do not beg on the streets while drawing Government benefits;  instead they volunteer or pursue further education to retain their self-esteem. They do not line up for free food alongside wealthy foreign students, instead they buy due to expire markdown food and grocery specials.

Any cost of living supplement issued by the Government will most likely be passed on to all benefit recipients.  So why are pensioners, particularly those struggling to pay rent, considered less worthy than those of with an ability to work? Perhaps the reason is, they suffer in silence because they are too proud to ask. Judith Giddings

Commenting on the story: Call to dump Centrelink’s JobSeeker asset changes

I received a text from Centrelink on Wednesday telling me that I need to update my assets by September 25. It threw me into a gut-wrenching panic.

Apart from a six-week temp job in September last  year I have been unemployed since February 2019.

I did not apply for Newstart until August of that year as I had kept on hoping to get another job, and also knowing that I would be expected to use up my savings before I would qualify. My application for Newstart (as it was known then) was rejected, and only after I contacted my local member of Parliament, was I approved.

Since then, I have diligently saved again, and now am in fear, again. I am 65, not yet qualifying for the pension, living off my super, and now so frightened that despite my unsuccessful attempts at trying to find a job, I shall be expected to use up the small amount of savings I have managed to scrape together.

As you mention in your article, what if the fridge dies? My fridge is 38 years old, and functioning perfectly. But for how long? My washing machine  is 8 years old. I am renting. Yes, evictions have been frozen until December. But what if my landlord decides he wants me out because he wants to move into his unit?

I am in debt to myself for just on $30,000 because I was living on my savings before I approached Centrelink. Am I supposed to now be penalised, because I have been sensible, thrifty, careful and responsible with my money and have managed to squirrel away a little bit of security? 

Before uploading all my bank statements, I went onto Centrelink’s website to try to find out how much I could have in the bank before my Jobseeker was cut back/terminated. I could not find it anywhere. All I got was that a single, non-home owner could have assets of $400,000.

I then rang Centrelink. After being bounced around from person to person, I finally spoke with someone, who clearly did not know the answer, said he would check and came back with exactly the same thing: single, non-home owner, $400,000. That still does not answer my question.

I uploaded all my latest bank statements. The total amount that I have managed to save is just on $11,000. I am now living in fear.

Having worked my whole life, paid (willingly and happily) a fortune in taxes, I am now fearful. This is just so wrong on so many levels. Irene Forsyte 

I’m currently on JobSeeker for the first time ever. I’m single and paying off a large mortgage on my apartment.

I have roughly $13,000 left in my bank. In the past week, I’ve just paid for major engine problems with my vehicle, registration (half yearly), vehicle loan, body corporate, rates, dentist, food, fuel, and numerous household bills. My approximate bills for this week, $7000.

It’s fair to say this doesn’t happen every week, but I’m just bringing up this example just to show how quickly one’s bank balance can plummet within seven days. I for one, do not feel safe with only $13,000 in my account and many more months, if not years of uncertainty in front of me.

If I’m forced to wait for unemployment benefits, and can’t find even part-time employment, I’m screwed. Kevin McKeague

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