Government backtracks on Seniors Card age increases

Ian Bushnell 3 November 2019 27
Seniors Sports Carnival

A recent Seniors Sports Carnival. More people will be able to obtain a Seniors card from July 2020. Photo: Joanne Hoare, YMCA Canberra.

The ACT Government has abandoned plans to increase the eligible age to obtain a Seniors Card to 65 by 2025, announcing that from July next year the age will drop from 62 to 60.

The 2016-17 Budget moved to restrict access to the card, setting out a path of incremental rises in the eligible age, increasing by a year every two years. The age rose to 62 only a few months ago in July.

But now, Minister for Seniors and Veterans Gordon Ramsay has announced that from July 2020 Canberrans aged 60 or over will be entitled to obtain a senior’s card as part of a 2019-20 Budget Review initiative.

The ACT Seniors Card is issued free and provides a range of ACT Government concessions, including a 10 per cent discount on motor vehicle registration, 28 per cent for electric vehicle registration and concessional public transport fares at peak times and free travel at off-peak times, and discounts on a range of goods and services provided by participating businesses.

It also allows seniors to access reciprocal discounts in other States and Territories.

Seniors Card

The Seniors Card issued by the ACT Government.

To be eligible, a senior needs to be a permanent resident of the ACT and not be in paid employment for more than 20 hours per week. There are around 8,500 seniors in the ACT aged 60 and 61.

The change is estimated to cost around $0.9 million over the next three years.

A spokesperson said the Government had listened to community concerns about the current arrangements, particularly in regard to reciprocal arrangements with other jurisdictions.

The new eligibility criteria would align the ACT Seniors Card with NSW, allowing ACT seniors traveling to NSW to continue to access discounts.

The start date of 1 July 2020 was to be in line with the Cabinet decision and also provided time for the Council of the Ageing (COTA) to implement the changes.

Mr Ramsay said the Seniors Card helped ease some cost of living pressures for our older Canberrans, but also encouraged social inclusion. Older Canberrans played a substantial role in the ACT community and allowing a greater number of older Canberrans to access concessions would benefit the community more broadly.

“Our community of older Canberrans has the highest rates of volunteering and caring nationally, and are the healthiest and most educated in the country,” Mr Ramsay said.

“They bring significant resources through their years of experience to the social, community and economic life of our city.”

“As our city continues to grow it’s important that we ensure that older Canberrans remain engaged in our community and that they have access to the appropriate services at a reasonable cost.”

The Government is developing a new Age-Friendly City Action Plan, which is due to be unveiled in the first half of 2020.

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27 Responses to Government backtracks on Seniors Card age increases
Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 7:52 pm 05 Nov 19

Barr hates Boomers

    Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 1:23 pm 01 Jun 20

    Yes. Does not want to hear the opinion of older people. Well, one day, if he’s lucky enough, he’ll get old, too!

John Moulis John Moulis 2:25 pm 05 Nov 19

Now let’s get the Federal government to reverse the disgraceful decision to increase the pension age.

When Kevin Rudd increased it to 67 many of us thought that Tony Abbott’s government would put it back to 65. Instead he increased it further to 70.

I find it incredible that every other country can have a pension age of 65, 60 and sometimes even 55 or 50 yet we are told that we can’t afford that, and that people here are told that we have to work until 70. Why?

Sharon Griffin Sharon Griffin 9:36 pm 04 Nov 19

Daniel Madeleine Nicholas. Dad is not happy! Philip!

Robert Hawes Robert Hawes 7:44 pm 04 Nov 19

Many shops give concessions. The only way to find out is to see their card saying seniors card welcome in the shop.

Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 7:11 pm 04 Nov 19

A rates discount would be much more meaningful and useful.

Greg Miller Greg Miller 6:50 pm 04 Nov 19

It makes sense, The ACT is completely surrounded by NSW, where seniors cards are available to people aged 60 and over. Having a higher age to be eligible in the ACT was always a dumb move!

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:41 pm 04 Nov 19

“The Government is making some changes to the Concessions Program to create a fairer, more sustainable and more accessible system to support vulnerable Canberrans.”

That’s from the 2016-17 ACT Budget (Budget Paper No. 3, p.45).

Increasing the age for a Seniors Card was fairer and more sustainable then (and the argument about reciprocal arrangements with other jurisdictions would have been known at the time) but three years later, it’s not. This is so blatant.

Neal Baudinette Neal Baudinette 2:26 pm 04 Nov 19

That's what I thought

Capital Retro Capital Retro 2:12 pm 04 Nov 19

Discounts on any medical services such as Xrays and scans usually come to holders of the CSHC card which is issued by the Federal Government. The ACT Seniors card gets you nothing in the medical sector.

Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 2:07 pm 04 Nov 19

Great news!!! A free Bus ride for me when they don't properly service where I live and work by bus anymore.

Judy Owens Judy Owens 1:31 pm 04 Nov 19

Is there another election next year....????

Therese Colosimo Therese Colosimo 12:57 pm 04 Nov 19

And so it should...

Ally Ryan Ally Ryan 12:41 pm 04 Nov 19

Turns 125, “0h yay, one more birthday and I can get a seniors card”....

Claudine Besgrove Claudine Besgrove 11:54 am 04 Nov 19

Seniors card gives you benefits not just in shops. My husband has had discounts in travel, buses and even on some x-rays and scans so always ask.

Acton Acton 11:30 am 04 Nov 19

The ACT Government is motivated by self-interest and so ignores the plight of the elderly who are physically and mentally wasting away in nursing homes. Instead of meaningless token gestures like a seniors card the ACT Government should be accepting responsibility for looking after the most vulnerable people in our society.

Robyne Mitchell Robyne Mitchell 10:51 am 04 Nov 19

It doesn't work in lots of shops as they only give discounts to their own loyalty schemes.

Loris Manns Loris Manns 10:41 am 04 Nov 19

Pity they don’t abandon plans on lots of their other ridiculous ideas!

Allan Wilcock Allan Wilcock 10:36 am 04 Nov 19

Gee. It is worth nothing in real terms.

    Barbara Belmonte Barbara Belmonte 11:16 am 04 Nov 19

    I agree with you, Allan. As a Senior Card holder of some years, I can only think of one place where it is of value to me

Jennie Gilbert Jennie Gilbert 10:29 am 04 Nov 19

Hey Claudine Besgrove good news for you

    Claudine Besgrove Claudine Besgrove 11:52 am 04 Nov 19

    Jennie Gilbert hopefully they won't change their mind again. 😁

Gerda Lawrence Gerda Lawrence 10:15 am 04 Nov 19

Do they think this will get them more votes--definitely not from this household. Thank you for nothing

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