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Marc My Words: Govt And Marriage Don't Mix


Government is not in the best interests of marriage!

Why are we forcing elders whose spouses are in long-term care to repudiate their marital status just to access their rightful entitlements? It is an affront to those who value enduring marriages that a directive from the Social Security Appeal Authority has the effect of paying either an extra $38.32 net per week if they share accommodation or $57.48 net per week if they live alone, when the spouse in care is incapable of affirming their marriage vows.

While it is abundantly clear that unlike the vote grabbing publicity drives of the Government on the budget (where Labour is intent on wasting $21 million of taxpayers' money), these entitlements have received scant public exposure. Why? Because, I suspect, this Government wants to act the Socialist when it suits in the extraction of our nation's wealth from those who produce it, and then turns greedy like the Capitalists they rail against when it comes to dispensing that wealth to those who actually need it. Intoxicated by its huge surpluses, Helen and the political sisterhood want to claim that people are entitled to something yet deprive others by keeping the entitled unaware. By this tactic the Government wins in claiming they're doing something for our elders while hoarding the money that elder recipients are unaware of! It is an underhand vote grabbing ploy rather like a coven of vultures slobbering over their hapless victims (the public) while taking their time over the wine selection!

While Grey Power and Age Concern are doing their bit to let our elders know what they're entitled to, we all seem to be missing the point.

It may well be true that up to 34,000 over the age of 65 years are dementia sufferers (Census 2001), and through strokes or other incapacity are unable to assert their marriage vows. Nevertheless, the real problem as I see it is that we have discriminated against married elders by not giving them their rightful full superannuation rate as a single person. At present that rate stands at $249.09 net per week in contrast to the single sharing rate of $229.93 net per week and a married person rate of a miserable $191.61 net per week. It is a disincentive to stay married or to share accommodation if, as a consequence, the government pays less. Our elders should not be financially disenfranchised because they choose a politically inconvenient living arrangement.

The real point is that it is none of Government's business to meddle in the accommodation arrangements of our elders. Whether or not a spouse is able to affirm marital vows, live at home, get divorced or take in a companion is irrelevant with respect to the rightful entitlement to super. It is not a welfare benefit. Our elders have earned their superannuation - and through their taxes, paid for it many times over.

Government should butt out, stay out of our relationships and stay out of our homes.


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