My category called Australia’s Bad Things is mostly about Australia’s wildlife and fauna. I started by writing about “bad” things, but by and large, I realised they were not really bad, it was just that some people think of them as bad.
Snakes, sharks and crocodiles, for example, aren’t really bad; they are just part of Australia’s beautiful wildlife. Unfortunately, sometimes they cross paths with us humans with fatal consequences.
As I looked for more wildlife to write about, I soon realised there were far more Australian good things than bad, like koalas, kangaroos, possums and other cuties.
Some things though really are bad, like fire ants, cane toads and feral pigs. These are three of Australia’s worst imported bad things. But there is a fourth kind of Australian bad thing.
Some bad things don’t even live here.
I believe the English FA were the first non-residential Australian bad thing to appear on this blog for changing the time of the FA Cup final this year to 5:15 PM and ruining the event for hundreds and thousands of Australian fans. Three o’clock in the morning is way too late to be watching footy.
Now it’s time to meet the latest and biggest non-residential Australian bad thing.
The British Government.
I didn’t know this until very recently, but British pensions here in Australia are frozen. They are frozen from the date you start collecting your very first payment, which may be when you’re age 65, or perhaps 67.
By frozen, I mean they are not indexed linked, your pension will not go up with inflation, your pension will remain the same payment from the day you get your first one, until the day you pop your clogs.
What does this mean in cold hard cash terms?
A Case study.
In 1974 a retired woman from the UK moved to Sydney. She recently reached the ripe old age of 100 and got a telegram from the Queen. What she really wanted was a fair pension for the last 35 years, what she has been getting is just £6.12 per week. If it had been indexed linked, she would have been on £107.45 a week from April of this year.
“We have always been proud of Britain for standing up to injustice back in 1939, but cannot understand why as loyal British citizens, now that life has taken us to retire in a Commonwealth country like Australia, that our Mother Country should penalise us and others from the UK from the rights enjoyed by those who chose to live elsewhere overseas. I feel this is a gross injustice which does not live up to Britain’s once proud record of fairness and its standing in the world.”
Yes, even those who fought for Britain in World War II and who chose to kick back and retire here in Australia have also had their pensions frozen.
If, on the other hand, he’d chosen to move to say Spain, the USA, Germany, the Philippines, France, Poland, Denmark, Macedonia, Turkey, Serbia and Montenegro, or, ooh, any one of another 40 or so countries, then his pension would have been index-linked.
Why won’t the British Government pay up?
Whenever the government announce their pensioners pay increases in the budget, you’ll notice that right at the end of the speech you will hear the words “except those without a bilateral agreement”. The UK government refuses to negotiate any more of these agreements.
That includes us here in Australia and our friends in Canada too.
Innocuous, innocent and almost meaningless sounding words, but the reality is that ‘technicality’ takes 550,000 expat pensioners out of the index linking loop.
The British Government also claim they can’t afford to index everybody; an independent report proves otherwise.
“BPiA commissioned Oxford Economics (OE), a leading economic forecasting consultancy, to perform a study on the subject. The results of the study showed that every single British pensioner living overseas provides a net saving to the UK Treasury just short of £4000 a year, for a current grand total of more than £2.2-billion in real savings annually.
Meanwhile, BPiA also hired a professional polling company to find out how many additional 45-to-64- year-olds in Britain would consider emigrating if pension freezing were abolished. When the results of that poll were applied to OE’s research, a clear picture emerged that abolishing pension freezing is highly likely to increase emigration numbers and thus produce a substantial ‘new money’ net benefit to the government in addition to the £2.2-billion already experienced each year.”
Sounds like the British Government can’t afford not to from those figures, doesn’t it?
How do I know all this?
Because a couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Jim Tilley (pictured right with former Australian PM John Howard), the Chairman of British Pensions in Australia (BPiA). Last week we had a chat on Skype.
Jim has been fighting this discrimination against Australian British expats’ pensions for many years and he has promised to win that fight, or die trying.
As Jim himself told me, pensioners living here in Australia are suffering a triple whammy.
The current weakness of the pound against the Australian dollar is the first. Five years ago, for example, anyone who was receiving £100 a week pension would have got about $250 AUD for that. Now it would be closer to $150.
Pensioners, more often than not, need more healthcare. Here, in Australia, that’s going to cost more than it would have done back in the UK with the NHS. That’s whammy number two.
With pensions not being indexed, there’s your triple whammy.
How can you help?
- If you’re still in the UK, complain to your local MP. Kick up a fuss, tell them its blatant discrimination, tell them you want justice for pensioners in Australia.
- If you are here in Australia, I strongly suggest you join BPiA. It is a non-profit making volunteer organisation dedicated to fighting for indexing of pensions here in Australia for British expats. It’s just $20 per year to join or $30 for a couple.
The money has previously gone towards the barristers and legal teams who represented our interests in the UK and at the ECHR. BPiA, with their Canadian mates, now engage a PR firm to help publicise this issue in the UK as well as towards helping each and every individual pensioner maximise their pension payments here in Australia.
On a personal note, I’m no spring chicken. The Sands of Time are ticking by, and it won’t be long until I would have been collecting my free bus pass from the British Government and a little bit extra during winter to help me out with my heating bills.
But I won’t be doing that, because I live here in Australia. I’m saving the British Government some money.
So give it back! INDEX MY PENSION!!
I’m going to find out more and keep up-to-date, I’m going to:
I hope you do too. Also, visit pensionjustice.org.
The Expat Daily Telegraph is also fighting for us, you can Google ‘Daily Telegraph frozen pensions campaign‘ for updates.
“Fairness is at the heart of everything we do” PM, David Cameron, May 12th 2010
“No it isn’t!” BobinOz, 25th of July 2012.