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MEMBERS of the Port Stephens community were invited to attend a Pensioners Taskforce forum last week in Nelson Bay, hosted by Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson and Julian Hill, Member for Bruce and Deputy Chair of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit.
Julian Hill is the Secretary of the Protecting Pensioners Taskforce, an ongoing task force hosted by the opposition, aiming to connect with and advocate for seniors across Australia.
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Locals of Port Stephens made their voice heard at the forum, discussing fears of the Cashless Welfare Card, lack of appropriate health services in the region and cuts to Medicare funding.
‘We want to find out what issues are relevant to the community so we can fight for them and advocate for those we represent,” Ms Swanson said.
Julian Hill said that although COVID restrictions had halted plans to discuss the Pensioners Taskforce in Nelson Bay, after six months of rescheduling, he was eager to hear what residents had to say.
“We’re doing this right around the country, firstly to listen to people, and then to take the issues that we’re seeing, particularly common issues, back to either our policy development or to the Government, if we are given the great privilege after the election,” Mr Hill said.
Julian said commonly discussed issues included the crisis in aged care following the Royal Commission in which 148 recommendations were made and only half have been responded to, the 900 cuts which were made to Medicare funding and rebates during the pandemic, online scams and cyber security and the social security system, particularly the cashless welfare card.
This was supported on the day, with many residents raising these common issues.
“During COVID, there was a freeze to the pension and over the past few years, there have been some of the largest cuts to the Pension which has greatly affected the quality of life for many of our oldest residents.
“Over 50,000 people in Australia have signed the petition to scrap the cashless welfare card and we’re listening to this- the community have made it known that this is not wanted and that it needs to be abolished,” Mr Hill said.
“We don’t always get it perfect, but we’re committed to listening and acting based on those we represent,” he concluded.
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