Full response from Jacqui Lambie

In relation to this FactCheck on pensioners and poverty, Senator Jacqui Lambie told The Conversation:

A well known and widely reported OECD Study - Pensions at a Glance 2015 - found that more than one-third of Australian pensioners are living below the poverty line.

Parliamentary Library research I conducted when that report was released confirms that the average single Tasmanian aged pensioner receives $873.90 while an aged pensioner couple receives $1,317.40.

During recent meetings and conversations with ACOSS and other peak social welfare organisations - it has been mentioned to me that - and its written on the ACOSS website - that (and I quote):

“We measure poverty as the number of people living below the poverty line of 50% of media household income. This is the poverty line used by the OECD, and in 2012 (the latest year for which figures are available) equated to a disposable income of less than $400 a week for a single adult.”

Given that the line in the sand for being classified as being officially in poverty by ACOSS is $400 a week for a single adult and the average Tasmanian single aged pensioner receives $436.95 a week – then it’s not unreasonable for representatives of social welfare bodies to warn me that the number of our aged pensioners to live in official poverty would now be double that of the figures quoted by the 2015 OECD report.

The poverty line needs to be recalculated. 2012 OECD figures are not good enough. $37 dollars a week separates a pensioner who the OECD and ACOSS says is below the poverty line – and the average single Tasmanian aged pensioner. And the cost of living increases for Australian pensioners over the last 4 years – needs to be carefully factored in.

If an up to date study suggests that the majority of Australian Aged pensioners are living below an international poverty line – I will not be surprised. Indeed, the onus of proof is on the Australian government to prove that two-thirds of our aged pensioners are not living below the poverty line.

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