Government delivers bad news for retired ministers
Over 1000 retired Uniting Church ministers received disheartening news this Christmas as the Federal Government remains steadfast with its decision to slash their retirement incomes.
The age pension changes in the benefit superannuation schemes that came into effect in January 2016 has seen more than 80% of retired members in the UCA Beneficiary Fund lose thousands of dollars a year. This is due to it being harder for members to supplement their retirement income with the pension.
The UCA Assembly made representations to Social Services Minister Christian Porter during the year on behalf of affected members. After a long period of consideration, Mr Porter responded on 1 December saying he will not make an exception for them.
In a letter to Church officers Mr Porter said:
“While this was a difficult decision for the Government, it was a fair one because it ensures that one group of pension age Australians are not treated more beneficially than another group, simply because their private income comes from a different source.”
Chair of the Uniting Church Employer Committee Bruce Binnie says the Minister’s decision is unjust as retired ministers have worked their whole lives on modest incomes such as ministerial stipends.
“Now they and their beneficiaries have had their incomes reduced because the Government has moved the goalposts when they have no chance to respond to their change in circumstances.
“The exemptions we sought have been allowed for military superannuation scheme members, but church ministers and their families have been snubbed,” said Mr Binnie.
The scale of lost income to retired members of the Beneficiary Fund ranges from $5000 to $8500 and some as high as $10,000 a year.
If you are a Beneficiary Fund member experiencing hardship as a result of the Federal Government superannuation changes please call the Mercer Super Trust Helpline on 1800 682 525 or Centrelink on 132 300.
UCA President Stuart McMillan has called the Minister’s decision ‘distressing’.
“While future avenues for advocacy are unclear at this stage, the Assembly is committed to advocating on behalf of our retired ministers at every opportunity,” said Mr McMillan.