Election rip off for pensioner
AS a polling day officer in charge, Bing Hansen will spend more than 40 hours “working for nothing for Julia Gillard” after learning his next pension payment will be docked by almost $200.
Mr Hansen had to hear from a friend about the poll day fine print, which follows the Federal Government’s Pension Reform last September when income received by pensioners would be assessed fortnightly instead of yearly.
But by the time Mr Hansen had worked out what it meant for him, he’d already spent 16 hours preparing for Saturday.
“It’s the sneakiest damn thing – if I’d known they were going to dock my fortnightly pension payment when they asked me to run the Yangan booth again I’d have said no way,” Mr Hansen said.
After his 2010/11 council rates increased by $500, the retired State Emergency Service controller reluctantly accepted the gig “for a bit of pocket money”, as he is sure many other Southern Downs pensioners are also doing.
“There’d be quite a few pensioners and others on government payments in the same boat so they’d better check if they’re also getting docked for working Saturday,” he said.
Mr Hansen will man the Yangan booth from 7am on Saturday and won’t arrive home “before 10pm” and as there is only two polling officials to monitor, sort and count the expected 500 normal and 30-40 declaration votes he “won’t even get a lunch break”.
“All that work and they dock your pension for it – it’s a disgrace, when this gets out to those in all the marginal seats Labor will get absolutely no votes from us...I’m working for nothing for Julia Gillard.
“Pensioners are struggling enough, we don’t have to be kicked in the arse for doing a public service.”
The irate Warwickite was puzzled the move came despite Ms Gillard pledging to pensioners only a fortnight ago they’d be able to earn up to $6500 a year without their pension being affected.
“It’s non-sensical; it doesn’t add up her suggesting we could earn $6500 before our pension’s affected...how can a measly $500 working for her affect it?” Mr Hansen asked.
“Your red-headed friend better not walk past me on the street, I’ll tell you that.
“They bang on about caring about people doing it tough yet it’s a different story it seems when it’s a non-working pensioner trying to earn a few bob on election day.”
Federal LNP member for Maranoa Bruce Scott pledged if they won government, they would return to averaging pensioners’ income annually, “particularly as this has an affect on seasonal workers like those who might take up small jobs fruit picking”.
Mr Scott said the change would also affect Santa Claus, who is also a struggling pensioner, when he is paid to visit shopping centres.
“We’re committed to reversing the silly rule because it’s unfair, especially those who are performing a vital service like helping on election day and especially those who are out in rural areas where it’s hard to find someone to help,” he said.