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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 37, Number 5. 3rd April 1974

Pensioners Protest

Pensioners Protest

Photo of an elderly protestors

Over 100 members of the Pensioners and Beneficiaries Association met below the steps of Parliament last Friday afternoon. They were there to voice their discontent over the government's handling of pensioners and beneficiaries.

President of the Association, Mr McComish, said that this was the first time that pensioners had found it necessary to demonstrate. They wanted three things: (1) $50 a week for married couples. $30 a week for single persons. (2) Pensioners to get the amount paid to workers in general wage rises. (3) An investigation into the way that pensioners who claimed the telephone rebate had their supplementary benefits docked.

Pensioners were unhappy with both political parties. When National M.P. Adams-Schneider came out to speak he was met with a mixed response. He told the pensioners that pensions should be raised, but he was not sure how. This is not suprising considering his record as Minister of Social Welfare under National.

Later, Labour's Minister of Social Welfare, Norm King, arrived. He said he would see a small delegation. Labour had done a lot for pensioners, he said, and it would carry out its policies. There were cries of "We don't want Christmas bonuses. Bonuses on nothing equal nothing." The Minister did not have a satisfactory answer to the question of supplementary benefits being docked.

King gave the pensioners a poor hearing, not allowing any time to ask questions, merely turning his back and walking away. As Mr McComish said "Christ has spoken and Christ has departed".

Mr King's actions indicated that Labour has already forgotten its leader's election night claim that "we want to help the little people". Labour has not done much for the pensioners and by the result of this protest will continue to do nothing. As one pensioner said, "We have voted Labour all our lives, now we are very disillusioned."