As opinion polls show that the Australian Labour Party is heading to a certain defeat in the national elections, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a package to woo the elders.
The centerpiece of the package is a $6500 work bonus to seniors in part-time employment and a $4000 training payment to support mature-aged employees.
''Many age pensioners want to undertake seasonal or contract work but are concerned about the impact on their pension,'' Ms Gillard said while campaigning in Brisbane yesterday. Under the $94.3million scheme, working pensioners would be able to accrue up to $250 a fortnight into an ''income bank'', growing to a total of $6500 over 12 months.
Labor estimates around 30,000 age pensioners earning $100 a fortnight will be better off, on top of the pension income free area worth $146 per fortnight for singles, or $3976 a year.
The Government says it also plans to appoint an age discrimination commissioner.
Families Minister Jenny Macklin says she understands older Australians have concerns about discrimination in their daily lives.
"A stand-alone age discrimination commissioner ... will be a dedicated advocate for the rights of older Australians in the community and in the workplace," she said.
"This person will handle complaints under the Age Discrimination Act."
LABOR'S election grab for the grey vote promising incentives for seniors to stay in part-time work, support for grandparents and new rules to protect older Australians who take out reverse mortgages ticks almost every box on the seniors' wish list, newspapers report.
Council on the Ageing Australia chief executive Ian Yates said seniors should be very happy with Labor's commitments, which cover almost every initiative he has lobbied for during the election campaign and in meetings with Government ministers.