THERE had been great exaggeration about the level of health costs that the ageing population would impose on the general workforce, opposition spokeswoman for seniors Senator Bronwyn Bishop said.
Speaking after a seniors forum at Hamilton yesterday, Senator Bishop said only 20 per cent of the increase in the nation’s health bill was due to the ageing population.
Senator Bishop said she was determined to dispel perceptions of seniors as a burden and increase the appreciation of the contribution they made to society.
Seniors felt they were not valued by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, she said.
“They feel they are not on her horizon.”
Senator Bishop said she was on a mission to make it as unacceptable to be ageist as it was to be sexist.
“Senior Australians have enormous knowledge and wisdom,” she said.
“If we are truly to be a unified society, everyone’s voice has to be heard.
“Forty per cent of voters are over the age of 50.
“It is a vital voice.
“No government can afford to ignore it.”
Breaking down barriers to mature age employment was among the goals of the federal opposition, she said.
It aimed to achieve that by paying employers $3250 if they employed someone for at least six months who had been receiving a welfare payment.
Senator Bishop said the impact of the carbon tax on the cost of living was among the issues raised at the Hamilton seniors forum that was attended by more than 70 people.
“People are generally concerned on a whole range of issues, the direction the country is taking, the debt the country is being plunged into,” she said.
“They want an election as soon as possible.”
She said the increase in the cost of living flowing from the carbon tax was felt particularly hard by seniors because many of them were on fixed incomes. “There’s more of their disposable income taken up with bills.”
Senator Bishop also attended a lunch at Dunkeld where people expressed concern about “the government tampering with the superannuation system and where their investments were placed”.
“There’s a need for trade union-dominated superannuation funds to come under corporation law,” she said.