“THE premier recently described you all as grumpy,” Labor party leader Mark McGowan told the packed hall of pensioners.
“We are,” quipped one elderly lady from Fremantle.
“And only with him,” another followed.
“He then said you need to grow up,” Mr McGowan continued. “They are offensive comments and show he is out of touch.”
The opposition leader told those who’d gathered at the Anglican church hall in Palmyra that seniors are copping it hardest under state and federal budget measures to pensions and concessions that leave the poor isolated and unable to access information and services.
He says the most damaging change is increasing the retirement age from 65 to 70 for people born after 1966, “because a lot of people who will need a pension in future years will be those in physical labour jobs such as construction, cleaners, gardeners and small business people”.
“My parents are a little over 70 now, my father was a wool classer,” Mr McGowan said. “I cannot imagine my father at 69 out there classing sheep in a shed.”
Retiree Liz West—a former Herald Chook and real estate agent—said the increasing cost of living would further isolate people unable to afford to leave their homes: “We are going to end up with a whole lot of people trapped in their own homes,” she said. “This will create major health issues.”
Once applause subsided, Mr McGowan quipped Ms West should be in parliament, running against disgraced transport minister Troy Buswell at the next election.
Another retiree noted the inability of many elderly people to afford the internet, further isolating them. Many said they were not interested in connecting online.
“My mum and dad don’t have the internet or a computer,” Mr McGowan replied. “They have no interest, my father in particular thinks it’s all ridiculous.
“Whereas my children aged 11, nine and five, they are right into that world. There is a generation for whom all of this world is not relevant to them and they need to have alternative options.”
Mr McGowan called on the Barnett government to stick to its promise to develop affordable housing in the former Myer building to generate, “a bit more life and activity”, in the CBD.
Fremantle Labor MP Simone McGurk added she would continue to pressure the government to restore the historic warders’ cottages and boost local school funding.
by CARMELO AMALFI