Fake news and the age pension

A number of full and part age pensioners have been contacting us, or other organisations who have contacted us, concerned that “income management” will be introduced for the age pension. Income management is a system that gives people a debit card that can only be spent on certain things (e.g. not alcohol and gambling). We’ve asked the government about it, and they’ve given us a clear answer: it is not happening.

For as long as I can recall there have been naysayers peddling the line that “the age pension won’t be there by the time you retire.” That line was a favourite of door-to-door life insurance salesmen in the past! Unfortunately, it continues in various forms today. It was a lie then, and it is an even bigger lie now.

COTA Australia is concerned about the spread of this fake news on the internet. The Retirement Income Review found that “Many people are uncertain about the future of the Age Pension. Surveys suggest that less than half of all respondents (48 per cent) and only 37 per cent of people aged under 55 agreed the Age Pension will exist when they reach retirement.”

The Retirement Income Review found that the Age Pension is economically sustainable and is at no risk. The same advice was repeated in the Inter-Generational Report (IGR) 2021 and endorsed by the government.

The age pension will be here long into the future, for many generations. The economic fact is that it’s becoming more affordable, not less. It is also the political reality that any politician who tried to take away the pension would be tossed out of office.

Your pension on a Cashless Debit Card?

Now there is another fake news “threat” to your pension. There have been social media posts, emails from Labor Party MPs, and motions moved by Labor in parliament, alleging the Government plans to put all age pensioners onto the Cashless Debit Card. That’s the card used in the Income Management Program where 80% of your welfare payment is restricted from being used on things like alcohol and gambling.

It’s just not true! We meet regularly with Families and Social Services Minister Senator Anne Ruston and her senior staff. We discussed this rumour shortly after she became Minister. She made clear this was not, is not, and never will be on the Morrison Government’s agenda. The Prime Minister has also confirmed that it is not true.

The Minister recently wrote to COTA Australia Chief Executive, Ian Yates, to reassure all pensioners that this will never occur. We have included a copy of the letter, so you can see for yourself. If you have heard or read this allegation – do not be alarmed, it’s not going to happen!

Letter from Minister Ruston