I found it interesting to read your editorial relating to the Franking Credits debate (Daily Liberal, 16/04/2019, p5). I see this has many stirred up but it puzzles me that no publicity at all is given to something else which potentially has a far greater impact upon rural retirees.
The Pension Assets Test was tightened a couple of years back with bipartisan support - the newspaper headlines of the day stating 'We are kicking millionaires off the pension'. Understandably this gained pretty widespread community support but it was quite misleading. It should have read 'We are kicking some millionaires off the pension'. The reason being, the family home which, more often than not is a persons most valuable asset, is not assessed. Take this hypothetical example - Retiree A lives in Dubbo in a house he owns which is worth $400,000. He has other assets (superannuation for example) valued at $900,000. He is classified as a 'wealthy retiree' and receives no pension. Retiree B lives in Sydney in a house he owns which is worth $1,500,000. He has modest other assets valued at $300,000. He qualifies for a full pension. Both retirees are keen on a sea change to the NSW North Coast and see a luxury waterfront retirement village where units cost $1,500,000. The 'wealthy retiree' from Dubbo cannot afford to make this move but the one receiving the full pension in Sydney can afford to move and still retain his pension. Mark Coulton, despite saying he speaks up for local interests, sees this as fair and reasonable. And his Labor opponent in the upcoming election did not even respond to my email about this. Seems to be a standard political tactic when they don't have an answer - just ignore you. To justify their political cowardice, BOTH major parties say that it would be draconian to include the home and effectively force people out of the home they may have lived in for years. But if they had a genuine desire for fairness they would (with bipartisan support) introduce something along the lines of how HECS is approached. If the family home is included as an asset for the pension eligibility test and someone prefers to stay in their home but still claim a pension, this be considered a loan from the government to be repaid from the proceeds of the home which would be sold after their death. Why doesn't this get considered ? That's an easy one - most voters live in metropolitan areas and neither party has sufficient interest in the future of the country to undertake genuine reform. They both talk fairness and take pot shots at each other but both are completely lacking when it comes to actions that back up their words. This brings me to the National Party. They are the ones who are supposed to be standing up for us rural dwellers. But what have we got ? I have approached Coulton, Gee, McCormack, Joyce and none have indicated any willingness to even consider reform in this area. McCormack and Joyce didn't even have the manners to reply. The candidates for the seat of Parkes need to do one of the following ;
1. Repudiate what I say and point out the factual errors I have made in criticising the current Pension Assets Test, or 2. Recognise this test unfairly discriminates against rural retirees and agree to vigorously pursue reform, or 3. Concede they don't have the political courage to stand up for the people they are seeking to represent.
To ignore this letter will, in my view be an admission that they fall into category 3.
Regards - Alan Nelson- Dubbo