Greens chase greys


GREENS candidate for Cowper, John Carty, is putting in a plea for pensioners to share in the nation's financial good fortune.

"Our policy is for a $60 a fortnight across-the-board increase for pensioners," Mr Carty said.

"It is about being fair.

"The people now on pensions have made sacrifices when they were young and they did not have the consumption we have so we need to look after them."

Mr Carty said the Greens also wanted to double the carer's allowance, widely criticised as inadequate.

Greens leader Bob Brown says The Greens are lobbying for the prime minister's forgotten battlers in the election campaign.

They have called on Labor and the federal government to commit to a $30 a week increase in the aged pension.

Senator Brown said Australia's two million pensioners haven't had a substantial increase in their pensions since 1993 and currently live on $268 a week.

"We have two million pensioners in Australia; 1.2 million are full pensioners living on a pittance," Senator Brown told reporters.

He said the $30 a week proposal would cost $3 billion one tenth of the federal government's tax cuts announced this week.

"That would enable our two million senior citizens living on the poverty line to be able to have a little extra to meet their costs for food for rental, for transport, for health," he said.

"And maybe just to be able to buy a gift for somebody they like, go to the pictures once in a while, which are beyond the ability of many pensioners these days.

"We are going to pursue this all the way to election day with Mr Howard and Mr Rudd."

While the Coalition's proposed tax changes offer an increased tax-free threshold, especially for older people with assets, this provides no financial help to full pensioners who have no assets outside their home.

Mr Carty said Cowper, which has the lowest per-capita income of any Australian electorate, had 16 per cent of its population over 65 and a high dependency ratio.

Cowper is ranked seventh out of 150 electorates for dependency, with only 1.6 people of working age for every person over 65 or under 15.

The electorate is also top of the national rankings for very low incomes.

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