Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from ACM, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's is written by ACM national agriculture writer Chris McLennan. Australia has made unemployed unfortunates work for the dole, perhaps it is time for oldies to work for their pension? It seems to be a natural extension of that thought bubble about solving the nation's workforce struggles by shooing old folk out of the aged care centres and into the orchards. As a person firmly in the seniors category, I thought it worthy of response. The National Farmers Federation and others are apparently urging the federal government to deliver a cut to their income tax to get them working on farms. As some of you might be aware, pensioners are only able to earn under $180 a fortnight if they are single or $320 if they are a couple before their pension is cut. Relaxing this tax impost might help solve the harvesting problems apparently. Our new treasurer Jim Chalmers expects the issue to be raised at the government's Jobs and Skills Summit in September. NFF president Fiona Simson spoke of a "huge nationwide benefit" to encourage seniors to "jump in their campers and caravans to earn cash picking fruit". Now I don't own a camper or a caravan but I have picked fruit before. I still own a swag which I have clung onto as a reminder of the days of my youth but have no hankering to sleep on its thin mattress ever again. You see, when you get older, your body wears out as well. Sweating it out among the grape vines and flicking off the spiders in a Sunraysia summer is not really on my retirement radar. Maybe it will be more attractive to others. Their super might not have gone as far as they hoped or they are travelling Australia as a grey nomad and need grocery money. I well remember interviewing some backpackers fresh in from Europe on a mango farm in tropical Katherine. Putting the humidity to one side for a moment, this gang's foreman had found a thermometer which he had helpfully stuck in the shade of a mango tree. It was a bit dirty and hard to read but was still obviously nudging 50 degrees. We all wished he hadn't done that. I straight away decided I had enough quotes in the notebook it was time to beat the hasty retreat to the air conditioned car and head back to the air conditioned office. If they didn't absolutely need the little money which they made from picking or packing, or even pruning, these backpackers would much rather have been somewhere else. Human beings can melt, I assure you. Still, those backpackers remain my hope for the future now the pandemic border restrictions are easing, as they were in the past. No-one wants to see the hard work of our farmers going to waste. But I hope those farmers have some help setting up mobile health clinics if they plan getting us oldies to save the day. Goodness, I reckon those kids in taxpayer-funded kindergartens are loafing about eating fruit all day, they could go out and pick some. Perhaps an oldie could hoist them up. Sure, change the pension tax if it can help a few but please don't look upon this as the answer to our problems. Some retirees, especially those from farms, will have useful skills in other rural industries. For my part, I reckon I would be good for a few hours reaching up or down to pick fruit. Then I would need a day or three to recover. A good reason to postpone retirement perhaps. I don't much like card games, cups of tea or lawn bowls anyway. Perhaps there is an underlying plan to save on the national pension bill. The increased costs to Medicare might absorb any of those savings. In case you are interested in filtering all the latest down to just one late afternoon read, why not sign up for The Informer newsletter?