Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union


Retired Members Campaigns

Retired Members Campaigns

No Pensioner Left Behind - Many Pensioners are living in poverty!

The Myth: "Pensioners are doing ok." They are not.

The Reality: More pensioners live in poverty – others are drifting towards it.

The Act: We must fix the problems in the current 6-monthly payment system.

Pensioner poverty cuts the living standards of families and friends.

Our proposals to fix the problems:

  • Retain the concept of the current system: living costs – average wages.
  • Change the wages benchmark to the adult male benchmark (explained below).
  • Match the cost-of-living measures to pensioners' reality, especially HOUSING.
  • Lift the single-age pension to $694 / week and couples in proportion.
  • Enable a pensioner voice - twice-yearly review – face to face.

Our petition explains how and why: 

  • More pensioners are drifting into poverty.
  • The current system makes that happen.
  • Age Pensioners should be consulted in the 6-month adjustment process.
  • Industrial wage increases, like the Annual Wage Review, is good for pensioners.

The basics and the poverty line:

The total aged pension has 3 components: the maximum basic rate, the maximum pension supplement, and the energy supplement. The supplement does NOT go to every pensioner – because of the income and assets tests. Therefore, the maximum basic rate is the relevant measure for poverty.

The 6-monthly adjustment:

The social security law sets out how the aged pension is adjusted. Dept of Social Services explains HOW the six monthly system works:

  • The Age Pension (AP) is adjusted on March 20 and September 20 each year.
  • First, the Australian Bureau of Statistics provides the data: the Cost Price Index (CPI), the Pensioner Beneficiary Cost of Living Index (PBLCI), and Male Total Average Weekly Earnings.
  • Second, whichever is the highest – CPI or PBLCI – is used to set any increase.
  • The increases must make sure the pension level is as follows:
    • Combined couples – 76% of Male's Total Average Weekly Earnings and
    • Singles – 33% of the combined couple rate; 27.7% of Male Total Average Weekly Earnings. 
  • The new pension rate is then announced.

Two big problems:

The cost-of-living measures do not match the real world of aged pensioners. For example, the Pensioner & Beneficiary measure undervalues real housing costs, especially for single pensioners, by over $200 per week.

This is a significant factor in the drift to poverty and must be changed.

The aged pension relativity to the current wages measure pushes pensioners into poverty.

Linking the aged pension to wages is a good idea. However, the current link is to Male Total Average Weekly Earnings. It's now the wrong one because the situation has changed since 2008.

Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (the current measure) is for all male employees—it includes overtime, employees paid junior or apprentice rates, part-time employees, and part-time casuals. It is the worst of the 3 possible standards (line 3 below) and is the wrong comparison because it's NOT about adult standards. And it's the fastest deteriorating community standard.

Full-time male adult average weekly ordinary time earnings - 38/36 hour week rates – the best new measure and relevant to pensioners


Full-time male adult average weekly total earnings – includes overtime, not relevant to pensioners.


Male average weekly total earnings – apprentices, juniors, part-time etc – no longer relevant to pensioners, the current measure.


The new statutory benchmark for single pensioners should be $694 per week, with a proportionate increase for couples. That’s the best community standard.

Please Sign the Petition Here!


For a physical copy, click the link here or the image below to download:

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