Meet the Small Parties – Seniors United Party!

The Seniors United Party is a new political party, formed by a group of octogenarian retirees who are not impressed with the way retirement villages and nursing homes are run.

There is not a lot of information on their website as yet, so this post will be put together from articles I have found elsewhere, notably oversixty.com.au, The Daily Telegraph, and Seniors Housing Online.

The Seniors United Party website is still about their initial party, which was NSW-based only.  I’m not sure if they will be running candidates in Victoria.  Here’s where they are coming from.

We seek your support on behalf of a large group of concerned senior citizens, who, after years of expensive frustrations with State politicians, government departments and Tribunals, have collectively come to the conclusion that, irrespective of lip-service politicians may pay, seniors’ interests will never receive fair and equitable treatment from any Government or Party without strong representation.

They are here to safeguard and protect the rights of people over 55 years of age, and to “Monitor, and where necessary introduce, or to seek to amend, legislation to ensure that Seniors Citizens living in NSW are not disadvantaged, exploited nor marginalised in matters relating to their finances, safety, well-being, and dignity, including those who live in residential and retirement villages, and those living in care facilities.

They then have a link to the NSW Council on the Aging’s article about Retirement Village Living.  Essentially, the concerns are the various fees and charges imposed on residents of aged accommodation, including departure fees, refurbishment costs (often when residents are leaving and will not benefit from them) and loss of capital gains.  There is also concern about privacy for residents.  There are also often issues of title and just how much of your residence you own.  This is not an issue I’m across (I have a friend who is dealing with issues around this at present, and I’m going to invite him to comment here, if he has time), but I do know that the buy in costs to get into a retirement village or aged care facility can be incredibly high, and eat up savings at a very fast rate.

Here’s what SUP has to say about this:

According to the Daily Telegraph, 83-year-old Neil Smith said their party will campaign for rights for the aged, but their mission is to get a parliamentary inquiry into the way retirement villages are run.

“Some of us have had professional lives only to find at the end we have no rights,” the former accountant said.

“People don’t realise until they get in there (a retirement village) and they say, ‘oh God, what have I done’, that you can’t get out.”

They are looking for a Parliamentary enquiry into the retirement village industry, keeping accreditation of nursing homes in public rather than private hands (and keeping their funding intact), introducing a comprehensive National Palliative Care scheme, a crack down on Home Care Packages, which they feel are poor value, and keeping superannuation simple – with means tests not including the value of the family home.

It’s interesting that their platform includes palliative care, and not euthanasia.  I’m not too sure what conclusions to draw from this, and whether they are anti-euthanasia, or just don’t feel strongly enough about it (or agree enough about it) to put it on their platform.

The family home bit is an interesting point too.  The government’s plan to include family homes in means testing is a bit of a blow to people whose main savings strategy over the years has been getting the home paid off so that they wouldn’t have to stress about rent during retirement.  But it is also not very equitable in a world where fewer and fewer people can afford to buy.  I’m guessing the founders of this party are from reasonably comfortable backgrounds – the quote above where they say “Some of us have had professional lives only to find at the end we have no rights,” speaks to me of absolute shock and astonishment – how could this happen to us?

I’m also interested in this quote, from the Daily Telegraph article:

While the founding fathers of the party do not plan on running, they are on the lookout for a candidate to put up at the next federal election.

This could put and end to their political career before it gets off the ground.

In short – not quite a single issue party, and a party with some legitimate complaints.  They’ve worked hard, and deserve to not spend their retirement worrying about money.  But… I do wonder where they stand on other matters relating to welfare and social justice.  They do make a couple of comments that imply that these younger folk just don’t care – I wonder if the care would go both ways, though.

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4 thoughts on “Meet the Small Parties – Seniors United Party!

  1. “They are looking for a Parliamentary enquiry into the retirement village industry, keeping accreditation of nursing homes in public rather than private hands”

    In favour of independent accreditation. The industry really has some dodgy operators (one of whom I went to uni with, and who is now considerably richer than I’ll ever be), and staffing levels are not adequate in a lot of cases.

    The family home and super/pension thing is tricky – people generally do better in their own space, but should be able to downsize without completely screwing up their income, and/or move into aged care without effectively handing over their house as bond. (This is why this person is richer than me.)

    Housing affordability has a lot of drivers, and the aging population is only one of them.

    • Yes, and moving is stressful, especially if you are older and having physical or other difficulties – but equally, if the family home is a Kew mansion, I’m not convinced it should be entirely exempt from income testing. And I agree about independent accreditation.

      • If home is a Kew mansion and the required bond is (surprise!) just under the sale price though? And I’m asking this for a reason as I suspect this party has come about via practices like this. Really, a bond of over $1 million for two 95 year olds is… interesting.

        • Ah, sorry, I was talking about means testing for pensions that time. I agree that a lot of nursing homes are absolutely predatory and this must stop.

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