Federal Election 2019: Meet the Seniors United Party of Australia

Summary

Website: https://www.supa.org.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SeniorsUnitedAustralia/
Previous Names:
Seniors United NSW
Recently merged with the Pensioners, Veterans & Seniors Party
Slogans:
Making Australia a better place for those coming after us.
Themes: Better healthcare, housing, employment and income for seniors.  The rest of us get nothing.
Electorate:
Upper House: NSW
Preferences: None – they simply advise voters to put them first and number 5 other parties in an order of their choice
Previous reviews

Policies & Commentary

The Seniors Party tells us that they are

For a fairer deal for Seniors, Veterans & the Disabled in Health, Care, Income and Housing

And that they were formed by ‘a group of Sydney retirees who refused to be pushed around any longer’.  Their About page tells us that they stand

For a better and fairer deal for all seniors, particularly self-funded retirees, superannuants and pensioners.

What happened to making Australia a better place for those that come after us?

Our polices are designed to benefit all seniors and in particular self-funded retirees, superannuants and pensioners. But we also see that by benefiting seniors we are also benefiting all members of society.

Is that so.

Their policy page is a single page and, look, I have to pull this out from my preamble.

We also have an emphasis on the conduct, ethics and morality of politicians. In this light we want to see the concept of “servant leadership” and the adoption of the “Fitzgerald Principles” on the ethical conduct of MP’s.

Servant leadership boggled me a little bit, because I have literally only ever heard that in a churchy context.  Does it get used elsewhere?  This doesn’t look like a particularly churchy party, I hasten to add, but it probably does say something about the general cultural background of their leadership.
Anyway, SUPA explains servant leadership as a leadership philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve.

A Servant Leader shares power, puts the needs of the constituents first and helps the government develop and perform as highly as possible.

OK, but who decides what the needs of the constituents are in this model?  (I realise that I am eyeing this phrase with a LOT more suspicion than it may deserve, but it does get use a lot by proponents of complementarianism / male headship to explain why it’s totally OK to demand that wives submit to their husbands, because their husbands will be servant leaders and put them first.  So that’s the baggage I’m bringing to this particular phrase.)

I had to look up the Fitzgerald Principles, and learned that they are:

  • To act honourably and fairly and solely in the public interest
  • To treat all citizens equally
  • To tell the truth
  • Not to mislead or deceive
  • Not to withhold or obfuscate information to which voters are entitled
  • Not to spend public money except for public benefit
  • Not to use your position or information gained from your position for your benefit or the benefit of a family member, friend, political party or other related entity

This, on the other hand sounds excellent and it would, indeed, be a fine thing if our politicians would subscribe to this model of governance.

SUPA’s first policy is a ‘special policy’ on pay and entitlements for politicians.  They still want politicians to be paid well – proposing a starting salary of twice the average weekly ordinary time earnings – but not as startlingly well as they are currently paid.  They also don’t want politicians to be able to vote themselves payrises, which is fair enough.  They want to get stricter on superannuation, and on travel expenses, and they want politicians to publish their expenses publicly on their official websites.  Also, they should also sign the Fitzgerald Principles.

These all sound like good policies, though I suspect politicians are still being paid a bit too much under this model.

Now onto their Core Policies, the first of which is Retirement Income.  They want a national enquiry into this, with emphasis on the adequacy of the age pension, and on the superannuation industry.  They don’t like lifetime caps on contributions, or  recent changes that mean you are taxed on your super (at 15%) if you access it while you are still earning income (I hope I have understood this correctly), and they definitely oppose winding back franking credits.

Oh, but only for themselves, apparently:

The Seniors United Party is totally opposed to the Labor Party’s proposed wind back of imputation credits and proposes an exemption from this policy for every one over the current statutory retirement age.

What happened to making Australia a better place for those coming after us?

SUPA wants the government to stop messing around with the official retirement age, and oppose increasing it beyond 67.  They point out, quite reasonably, that ‘it is unfair to keep increasing the retirement age when people getting close to their retirement have been planning this for some time’, and also point out that those who work in physically demanding occupations are particularly affected by these laws.

They also don’t like including family homes in the assets test for a pension.  I have mixed feelings about that one.  On the one hand, we have a housing crisis, and encouraging people to downsize isn’t a bad thing.  On the other hand, moving is physically and mentally stressful, and shouldn’t be imposed on people.  I’d rather see a scheme where if the house is valued above a certain amount it gets included, and where rental assistance for those on all forms of pensions is actually sufficient to assist with rent.

SUPA doesn’t like age discrimination in employment, and wants policies to help mature age employees stay in the workforce.  And also, they should be taxed less.

On health, SUPA opposes the freeze on the MEdicare rebate for GPs, as well as co-payments for GP and pathology services.  They want general dental to be on medicare, and they want to reduce hospital waiting lists by redirecting funds into this area (they are particularly cross about building two new stadiums in NSW at taxpayer expense instead of improving hospitals.

They want a national Dementia strategy, and a national strategy to identify and address elder abuse.

Under Aged Care, they want to retain registered nurses in nursing homes (apparently, NSW wants to remove them), and have mandatory minimum staff to resident ratios.  They want to reverse cuts to aged care facilities, they oppose privatisation of accreditation services for aged care, and they are pleased about the Royal Commission into aged care.

SUPA wants a fully-funded and comprehensive National Palliative Care Scheme, the purpose of which is to provide more comprehensive support to people in their own homes, so that patients can live as well as possible, and their families are properly supported in caring for them. This is something I’d definitely like to see happen.  We all die eventually, and everyone deserves support through the last stages of their illness.  It shouldn’t be dependent on where you live or how much money you have.

SUPA’s housing policy is mostly about better standards for retirement villages and residential villages.  They do want more social and community housing, ‘with an emphasis on mature single women, to ensure an adequate supply of housing for seniors and that waiting lists for placements are reduced.’

That’s lovely, and important but are you aware that most people in my generation will never be able to afford to own a home?  Could you at least take a peek outside your own demographic?

We now move on to SUPA’s Other Policies, which start with parliamentary reform and the establishment of a Federal ICAC.  They are cross that backbenchers get a salary bump whenever they sit on a Committee, or become a parliamentary secretary, assistant minister or Minister, which acts as a disincentive for MPs to act as proper MPs, working on behalf of their constituents.  I kind of like this bit.

The Seniors United Party will reform parliament by cutting the number of Ministries, abolishing Assistant Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, abolishing dodgy positions such as ‘Special Envoys’ and reducing the number of Committees. We see that this will streamline the way parliament works and make it more efficient.

They want a Royal Commission into the banks, and they have had one, so we will leave that alone.

Oh, and they are anti-immigration, because of course they are.   Immigrants are responsible for our overcrowded schools, road congestion, high demand on health services and higher house prices.  Also, skilled immigrants are stealing our jobs.  They want to reduce immigration from 190,000 to 120,000 per annum – which is actually less than I thought they would say, given their alarmingly xenophobic framing – and in particular reduce skilled work visa numbers.

On the up-side, they want a Canadian-style immigration system where states have a say in how many migrants they take.  I’m going to quote this one extensively, because it’s surprisingly good:

In Canada there is a system where the Provinces (States) discuss with the Federal Government what their needs are in terms of economic migrants (skilled) for the following 12 months. In this way there is a much more orderly immigration system that also concentrates on settlement in rural areas where there are identified skill shortages...

After immigrants arrive, the key issue for the provinces is retention, since immigrants can leave at any time. The provinces put a strong emphasis on ensuring that economic migrants receive a strong welcome on arrival and are provided with support programs, including education, access to local migrant community networks and assistance finding a job for those who are not sponsored by employers.

I’d support that.

But I do want to note that refugees don’t get mentioned even once.

SUPA is worried about defense procurement, especially how much we are spending and where we are getting our war toys from.  And they want to look after veterans, but they don’t have a specific policy yet.

SUPA wants more money for education… for seniors.  They want better funding for the University for the 3rd age.  They want to make the internet more affordable for seniors and create a seniors TV channel.

Look, I have mixed feelings about SUPA.  On the one hand, their policies around health and aged care are good, and even some of their policies around retirement income have merit.  If these were part of a wider platform, I might well vote for them.

But they aren’t, and as a result, the overall feeling I get from reading these policies is that despite their slogan, they have no real interest in making Australia better for anyone other than themselves.  Those who come after them really don’t get a look in here.  It’s a breathtakingly selfish worldview.

The environment doesn’t get a mention; there is nothing about education or jobs for young people, or support for families or parents, or about housing affordability for people on low incomes.  How, precisely are they ‘Making Australia a better place for those coming after us’?

To be clear, I have absolutely no problem with a political party being formed by a specific demographic to look after the concerns of that demographic.  But why not be honest about this, rather than pretending that you stand for all of Australia?

Maybe I’d feel different about them if I were a pensioner, but after all their talk of servant leadership and transparent politics, I’m feeling a bit let down by SUPA.

Eurovision Theme Song as determined by me, very objectively

I didn’t bother going with deeper meaning for this one.  Why would I, when instead I could feature yet another epic effort from Moldova (Moldova are so reliable), featuring an elderly grandma in a rocking chair smiling indulgently at the musicians as they play the sort of music that would certainly not have received such a benign reaction from my Oma, and then joining them to start playing the drum herself.

 

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