Walter Lees and Pat Kealy want a better deal for pensioners and are calling for support.
Walter Lees and Pat Kealy want a better deal for pensioners and are calling for support. Max Fleet BUNPEN

Pension petition to go national

A PETITION championed by Bundaberg retirees will be taken up by advocacy groups across Australia in a nationwide protest for better pension conditions.

Members of the National Union of Retired Workers Bundaberg branch launched a petition in July last year asking for an increase in the pension rate and improved healthcare for retirees.

Secretary Pat Kealy and other members canvassed the community with street-side petition booths and doorknocks around central Bundaberg, Avoca and Svensson Heights.

The petition yielded 5981 signatures and was tabled in parliament by federal Member for Hinkler Paul Neville.

Now four other National Union of Retired Workers branches and members of the Fair Go For Pensioners Coalition plan to use the same petition to apply pressure on the Federal Government.

Mr Kealy said the success of the petition had hinged on the support and understanding of the Bundaberg community.

"We were absolutely overwhelmed by how many people wanted to be a part of the petition," he said.

"The support we were shown was incredible and we'd like to thank everybody who signed their name in support of the cause."

The petition asked for an increase in the pension rate from 27.7% of weekly earnings to 35%, for pension and welfare payments to be indexed on a quarterly basis rather than twice-yearly, and for prioritised healthcare for pensioners.

Mr Kealy said many pensioners had fallen below the poverty line because the current pension rate did not account for inflation pressures and a rise in the cost of living.


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