Truss defends speech as pensioners hit back at comments
PENSIONERS have hit back at Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss after it was reported he made comments about seniors spending rather than saving their superannuation.
The outcry came after the National Party leader spoke at the Conservative Club Breakfast in Brisbane about the tough budget released on Tuesday.
Mr Truss has since refuted the reporting of the comments, saying they were taken out of context and did not reflect the tone of his speech.
"I offered no criticism, passed no judgement, nor made any disrespectful remarks about pensioners and superannuants," Mr Truss said.
"Words like squandering, blowing and other inflammatory language were used by commentators and did not appear anywhere in my speech."
However, he did go on to express concerns over the sustainability of the age pension.
"The purpose of my address was to explain the budget and why the government needed to make important decisions to ensure Australia's future.
"My concern is to ensure the sustainability of the age pension so it will always be available to those who need it.
"The age pension currently takes up 10% of all Commonwealth spending ... and it will keep rising as our population ages."
However his response has not deterred pensioners from venting their frustration, with a statement released by the Australian Pensioners and Superannuation League labelling the comments as disgraceful and ludicrous and not in alignment with the lived experiences of the majority of pensioners and seniors.
"The Deputy Prime Minister's comments that "increasingly, the lifestyle and the savings for superannuation are being seen as an opportunity to enjoy a few cruises and the luxuries of life for a few years until it runs out and then people wish to fall back on the age pension" and that people need to live within their means, are strongly rebuked," the statement reads.
"If the Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss, was to retire on superannuation generated by the 9% guaranteed levy and not the luxurious superannuation that he and other politicians will retire on, he would understand that the baby boomers and perspective pensioners are retiring with a superannuation nest egg on average of around $150,000."
The issue has touched a nerve, particularly among Mr Truss's own constituency across Wide Bay, with National Seniors Association Hervey Bay president Chris Jewell saying he was surprised by the comments.
"I thought the comment was a bit out of line," he said.
"Certainly from my point of view, I haven't been on any cruises, and I don't intend to go on any, because I can't afford to.
"I think a lot of people are in that situation where most of their funds are tied up in their home assets and have very little disposable income because they are not able to earn income anymore."