Monday, 29 May 2017
The week between sitting dates was a busy time for me, catching up with people living in the electorate and learning of the issues that are causing their grief. This very problem—digital change—was discussed with great emotion.
I believe that electronic technology can be a massive gain for our children—for their education and the overall future of our nation. However, the corporate push by electricity suppliers, telephone billers, other bodies and, now, the banks to charge around $2.75 for the supply of a paper account is problematic and disappointing. What on earth are they thinking? Who are the people most likely to be negatively impacted by this ridiculous, money-grabbing activity? We know: it is the older sector of our community in particular.
Let me read a letter from one of my constituents, Marlene Miller. Parts of the letter are underlined in red and written in capitals, with other parts written in red ink:
I'm writing to you with my concerns—
and many of these are health ones at first—
My husband, Thomas, and I are on a full aged pension. (We are grateful and thankful for this). However, as we are ageing, our health problems are increasing. TOM is NOW 77 years old. In the past 7 yrs, he has had "BOWEL CANCER", & recently "PROSTATE CANCER. I have recently been diagnosed with "severe OSTEOPOROSIS".
She is 74, but she has the osteoporosis effect of an 89-year-old:
I could end up in a Nursing Home …
And then she goes on about how she may be replacing her hip. During Tom's recovery from his prostate operation he fell. She had to lift him and now she has additional problems. But the most important point she brings to me in the letter is:
WE HAVE BODY CORPORATE FEES TO PAY, AS WELL AS RATES, INSURANCES, PHONE, WATER RATES & NOW THE FIRE LEVY!!! BECAUSE WE DO NOT HAVE A COMPUTER, & CANNOT AFFORD TO RUN ONE, THE BODY CORPORATE NOW CHARGES US EXTRA MONEY TO "PROCESS" OUR PAYMENT AT THE POST OFFICE!!! I DO BELIEVE THE GOVERNMENT STATED THAT "AGED PENSIONERS" WOULD BE "EXEMPTED" FROM PAYING SUCH A FEE!
Well, I am not sure that that is the case. They have always worked very hard:
She challenged the body corporate about this extra fee. I have two letters here which she sent on. One says:
As an example a DEFT levy notice with $100.00 payable, when scanned by Australia Post, will read as $102.75 owing in the cashier's system. Once paid, $100.00 that will be allocated by your Strata Manager to your lot and $2.75 will be retained by Australia Post.
Australia Post denies the fact that it is actually putting on the additional levy. So just who is responsible for this? It is time we tried to find out. She also says that she is very happy to be living in Kiama, but she is finding it difficult.
I worked hard to have the pensioner concession card reinstated for those self-funded retirees who, because of their income level, lost their card on 1 January this year. Some of the ministers have actually said I was possibly too tenacious or too annoying. However, I am proud to let the more than 92,000 affected Australians, more than 3,000 of whom live in Gilmore, know that they will be getting their pensioner concession card back in October this year. I will follow up on these unfair paper charges put on by banks, utility corporates and other corporations with exactly the same tenacity I put forward in that case.