Following our discussion with Sydney based Jim Tilley about the frozen pensions, Ava Hubble sent a message using the contact form at Expatsradio. She is a journalist who has been following this story for some ten years and has become passionate about the issue as you will hear in the interview.
This is what she had to say: Hi I listened to your recent interview on the frozen pensions issue. I hope you might be interested in this update.
The Australian PM made world headlines recently by speaking out against
misogny. But the fact that she also spoke out about the frozen pensions
issue seems to have been ignorned by the media. I sent this letter
yesterday, to The Australian. All the best, Ava Hubble, Sydney
Last week Julia Gillard also spoke out about another issue: the UK’s frozen
pensions policy. Over the decades this policy has cost Australia billions of dollars. Currently it penalises about 500,000 British pensioners in over 100, mostly Commonwealth, countries. But the vast majority of these expats, about 252,000 are living in Australia. Many came here on retirement to join adult immigrant children. In line with the frozen pensions policy they do not receive the annual UK pension increase. This is in spite of the fact that they contributed, like their contemporaries, to the mandatory UK national scheme during their working lives.
Lobby groups like the British Australian Pensioners Association report that
many “frozen pensioners” who contributed to the compulsory British scheme
during working lives that spanned 40 years have been forced to seek
Centrelink assistance since they have not had their UK pensions indexed
against inflation for years and, in some cases, decades. Currently, 190,000 of these expats are reported to receive a means-tested Australian aged pension or partial pension. The current cost to Australia is estimated at about $A110 million a year.
So imagine the jubilation a few weeks ago when the Australian minister now
in charge of the issue, Jenny Macklin, announced that she had met in London
in August with the UK’s minister for work and pensions, Iain Duncan Smith,
and that he had agreed to open talks with Australia about the policy (which
dates back to the mid-1940s). Yet neither Mr Duncan Smith nor his office have responded to requests to comment on Jenny Macklin’s announcement. Meanwhile, the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions, continues to insist that the British Government has no plans to defrost its frozen pensions policy. But now, for the first time, Julia Gillard has entered the fray. In response to a written question from Rob Oakeshott as to whether Australia is as aggressively pursuing the issue as Canada, the prime minister replied, in her written response, that thanks to Jenny Macklin’s efforts, Australia has, for the first time in decades, succeeded in getting the UK to discuss options for the introduction of pension parity for all the penalised expats. She went on, though, to suggest that she will consider the possibility of “joint action” with Canada and other countries to increase pressure on the UK about the issue.
Julia Gillard’s late father, was a frozen pensioner, and a member of the
Sydney-based frozen pensioner lobby group, British Pensions in Australia.
The frozen pensions policy does not adversely affect Britons who retire to
most non-Commonwealth countries. In her response to Rob Oakeshott the prime minister stressed that Australian considers the policy unfair and
Visit our websites www.pensionjustice.org or www.bpia.org.au or www.britishpensions.com and read about this issue at www.telegraph.co.uk/frozenpensions.
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