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We older ‘burdens’ on society

Here we go. Here we go. Yet again. Doesn’t pay to be over 60, does it?

Here’s an excerpt from an article in The Sydney Morning Herald:

“Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will on Tuesday signal a drive to get people in their mid and late 60s to work longer and undertake training to keep in touch with the jobs market as the government confronts long term pressures to the budget bottom line. Mr Frydenberg will use an address to the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia to argue a “new dynamic” in the way the country’s population is ageing will require new policies to ensure the nation’s economic heavy lifting is not left to a diminishing number of younger people.”

I get it that the balance between older and younger in our society is changing, and that in the future the number of older people in our society will increase, and that the Government needs to take all of that into account when planning future health, education, housing, and ‘where’s the revenue going to come from’ type policies.

What I don’t get, and don’t like, is the frequency with which words like burden, and economic heavy lifting, are used by politicians to condescendingly swipe us oldies over the head.

Are we burdens on society? Have we not heavy-lifted and contributed to the economic well being of the country over the course of our working lifetimes? Now that we have been pushed aside into the invisibility of older age are we, now, to be targeted and punished by this Government because employers steadfastly refuse to hire us?

The major problem with this Government is that they hold vulnerable cohorts within our society solely responsible for the condition that they find themselves in.

The unemployed for example, of any age, are tagged as bludgers and burdens and are subject to such a punishing regime of compliance including: the bad joke that is JobActive, the deliberate suffering that is imposed by the starvation level of Newstart, the restriction of even the tiniest amount of freedom of choice left available to the unemployed by the imposition of the Indue Card.

When you are an oldie caught up in all of the mess that is the Government’s Welfare Policy, whether you are currently stuck on Newstart, or whether you have managed to transition to the marginally more welcoming climes of the Old Age Pension, which at least allows you to breathe with some dignity at least once a week, it is enough to make you tear out whatever hair you are lucky enough to still have left.

Frydenberg and Co need a reality check.

We oldies who want to work are not the problem, the employers who will not hire us are the problem.

We oldies who are not rich are not the problem, a society that measures the worth of a human being by the level of their ability to consume, and spend, and accumulate wealth, and a society that denies the most basic social dignities to the disadvantaged and the old, is the problem.

And what is the Government’s answer to the issue of older Australians whose job applications are continually rejected? Well, we have a startlingly new brilliant idea, we’ll re-train you. Gosh … we’ll all be re-trained up as coders and data analysts and rocket scientists in order to secure our share of the ‘jobs of the future’. It would be funny if it wasn’t what it actually is – sad and demeaning.

And where will we be re-trained up? Not in the TAFES, they’ve been gutted. We’ll be re-trained up in the profit-making private training industry, that plethora of Registered Training Organisations with happy and profitable links with the JobActive network.

Josh and Co need to sit in on some of the job interviews where employers tell us oldies that we are too over-qualified for the job. Already too over-qualified for the job. And the Government’s answer to that pernicious form of ageism is to offer to add to the level of our qualifications thereby ensuring that the employment door that has shut closed on our feet, will shut even harder.

The fact is that the proportion of older people who cannot find a job is going to increase, and increase, and increase. It is not going to increase because we are burdens, or bludgers, or light-weight lifters, or any of the other crap mantras that this Government throws towards our aged bones. The number of older people out of work will increase because employers have made it brutally obvious to us that we are not wanted.

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  1. Jaquix

    I would suggest that Josh Frydenberg himself should seek re-training. Hes a dud Treasurer.

  2. Puking Whatsit

    Surely we oldies would be far less a burden on society if we gave up our jobs for younger, productive unemployed people.
    I am retired – reluctantly – but live a frugally comfortable life on my super and savings, a luxury the modern ‘self-employed independent contractor’ will be unlikely to enjoy.
    There is a lot of volunteer work available for us aged flotsam – some of us jetsam – to keep us from sitting in air-conditioned shopping centres all day, just looking lonely and unwanted.

  3. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Keith. Or because we’re old and tired and couldn’t, no matter how much we might wish it otherwise.

  4. LambsFry Simplex.

    Well. I’m sending a message back to the treasurer and it consists, one raised middle finger.

  5. LambsFry Simplex.

    How is it that an individual who looks like a stuffed gopher gets to be raised to the second highest position in the land?

  6. Pilot

    Yep, us old farts can go out and dig trenches, chop down trees, collect rubbish, plant trees, sweep the streets, shovel shit, have heart attacks, die, problem solved!!
    If these ignorant, greedy, fascist bastards can’t starve us to death on the pension, force us into suicide from robodebt, kill us in underfunded aged care facilities run by their rich greedy mates…. Yeah, they’ll work us to death!!!

    These bastards need to go!!!

  7. New England Cocky

    “The number of older people out of work will increase because employers have made it brutally obvious to us that we are not wanted.”

    In my experience that says it all in a regional employment market where governments refuse to DECENTRALISE GOVERNMENT JOBS TO URBAN REGIONAL CENTRES outside the magic circle of the Hawkesbury River Bridge, the Nepean River Bridge and Tom Ugly’s Bridge in case they fall off the edge of the world or get eaten by the dragons residing in the Royal National Park.

    Would somebody be good enough to explain to me in words of one syllable what a failed professional tennis player knows about, or is trained in, economics or business experience or any other financial pursuit that may qualify him as treasurer.

    Oops!! Silly me!! This is the Liarbral Party we are talking about, where lack of any professional qualifications is a pre-requisite for any position in the Cabinet.

  8. Kathryn

    And what the hell has this smug, condescending, totally inept political parasite and his useless, self-serving colleagues in the worst, most destructive, morally bankrupt government in our history EVER done to improve the appalling state of our economy since their ignominious rise to fascist power in 2013? Frydenberg is right up there with John Howard, Peter Costello and Sloppy Joe Hockey as the worst, most incompetent and criminally wasteful treasurers in our political history! They achieved NOTHING but devastation, rigidly austere budgets that restricted and slowed economic growth and stole from the poorest most vulnerable people in the country to feed the obscene wealth of the Top 1%.

    This is the same despicable regime that STILL stubbornly sticks to the discredited, disproven “Trickle Down Economic” theory that has been universally condemned by the IMF, world leading economists like the Nobel prize-winning Joseph Stiglitz and the widely acclaimed international financial magazine, Euromoney all of which have stated that the Costello/Howard government were the worst, most wasteful government in the OECD at the time of their governance!

    This from an arrogant member of the same short-sighted pack of self-serving parasites who increased their OWN obscene, undeserved salaries no less than three times whilst they forced vulnerable Australians to eke out a below-subsistence living on Newstart, attacked and reviled pensioners and allowed the pittance wages and salaries of everyone else to stagnate for years on end!

    This shocking, autocratic statement from a permanent political parasite who has contributed NOTHING, achieved NOTHING, has no plans, no policies and ZERO insight! This from a destructive, soulless and undemocratic regime that has lied on EVERY issue, broken every promise and betrayed their heartland in rural communities around the country! This callous disregard for the hard work of Australians from a nauseating regime that has QUADRUPLED our national debt and deficit in less than six years of EPIC mismanagement, criminal waste, self-serving corruption and blatant elitism!

    This breathtaking piece of astonishing hypocrisy from a mob of regressive, coal-loving Neanderthals who are out of step, totally disconnected and alienated from more than 99% of the population, even the Murdoch-manipulated, working-class conservative idiots who voted them in! This shocking lack of compassion from a pack of reckless, climate-change-denying fools who, for years, refused to do a thing about the devastating impact of climate change then just sit and watch Australia BURN from their safe, ivory tower in Canberra. And what did MorriScum do whilst the bushfires raged across three States? The gutless leader of Frydenberg’s repugnant LNP conspicuously goes MIA, cowardly hiding in order to avoid public fury and forced to answer media questions about the HUGE elephant in the room = the criminal neglect by the LNP to undertake policies addressing the now critical, catastrophic impact of climate change, a topic that should have been discussed DECADES ago!

    One thing is certain, the nano-second this depraved, self-promoting fool (F’berg) reaches retirement age, he will be off on a taxpayer-funded round-the-world jaunt with his family – enjoying the fruits of OUR labour from a parasitic life sucking off the bleeding wound of the taxpayer purse without having accomplished a SINGLE THING to benefit the lives of ordinary Australians!

  9. JudithW

    I’m over 60 and have been waiting for over 3 months for my newstart application to bubble to the top. Recently told, by centrelink person, my application had been flagged and was on hold because the 6 months of financial transcripts for myself and my partner for all bank and super accounts – that took me approximately 8.5 hours, 2 phone calls, 2 visits and around $5 in copy costs – were “Unnecessary and inappropriate” but that this was a common occurrence.
    I was thinking that perhaps I could get a forklift operator certificate but I think i’m too qualified (1 degree & 2 post grads) for financial assistance.
    Eating into my super and my savings – it’ll cost them more to pay me a pension when my savings run out than it will cost them to pay me newstart ow!

  10. Kaye Lee

    My brother, aged 65, who was a systems analyst, is now being Santa at a shopping centre and a casual school crossing person.

    I am 62. Most of the women I know are juggling work with looking after old parents and grandkids, and sometimes disabled partners. Josh, I could probably fit in some extra work on the 4th Tuesday in May 2020 between 10;30 and 11:15 am. Have your people get back to me.

  11. king1394

    Retraining does not guarantee work. I spent 4 years at university to get a teaching degree, starting at age 57. And expecting that I would have five years to work till retirement, and possibly have some casual teaching after that. Sounds like a plan but for whatever reason, I never got an appointment, even though I applied for work across the State of NSW.

  12. king1394

    Losing my job as a teachers aide at 57 led me to retrain as a teacher. That took four years. Apart from a couple of casual days, I never had a hope of a teaching position, although I applied for vacancies all over the State of NSW.
    At the same time I could have had volunteer work all day every day. I certainly had no trouble getting 15 hours per week to meet the mutual obligation contribution.
    Although my qualifications and experience ranged from secretarial and administrative positions, library work, childcare and tutoring as well as being an accredited bush regenerator, the Job Search Agency was quute unable to find a suitable or even unsuitable job for me to apply for.

  13. Kaye Lee


    One of my neighbours is the same age as me and has worked as a builders labourer all his life. He is illiterate but a good honest worker. He now has various health issues that mean he can no longer do physical labour. After being knocked back for a disability pension, he asked the JobActive people what job he could apply for. The smartarse suggested “folding clothes”…seriously.

    Update….after encouraging him to pursue the disability pension claim and offering some help with the application, he was granted it recently. It is ironic for me to say he was one of the lucky ones.

  14. Kathryn

    New England Cockey, you are a legend, darling! Everything you said is correct except, of course, the part about Tom Ugly’s Bridge leading to the Insular Peninsular heartland of Morrison! I seriously doubt that the LIAR from the SHIRE will neglect his right-wing electorate in Cook! However, we can all HOPE AND PRAY that, one day soon, that the dragon in the Royal National Park becomes hungry enough to consume Morrison on his next visit – despite the fact that such a noxious meal would no doubt cause terminal indigestion!

  15. Keith Davis

    The best (um … worst) job rejection I ever received in my dotage was when I applied for a job scanning in paper records for an electronic medical records system … one interviewer asked me whether I felt physically capable of pushing a trolley around loaded up with paper records … I politely pointed out that that very morning I had been rolling around heavy hardwood fence posts on the farm where I was living. Ha … still didn’t get the job … perhaps it was because I also told them that the ‘inclusivesness’ statements in their Mission Statement were nothing short of a load of nonsense!

  16. Keitha Granville

    The young unemployed are a burden, single mums are a burden, pensioners are a burden, indigenous Australians are a burden.

    Notice who’s missing??

    POLITICIANS, the greatest burden of all.

  17. Win Jeavons

    Who does this fool think do all the voluntary work now? What used to be done by ‘ stay at home ‘ wives, is now done by retirees. Op shops supporting charities, SES, CFA, in our town RFDS driving service, and many others. I even did Tax Help as a free service for a number of years. Without healthy older folk doing these things our society could well collapse. As it will if we wear out fireys right now!

  18. Terence Mills

    The lucky country is fast becoming the dumb country !

    We have record numbers of kids completing year 12 right now and they are in many cases moving on to complete university degrees [it is estimated that there are more students studying law right now than there are legal practitioners in the whole of the country.]

    Many who would have gone into the trades are finding that, with the gutting of the TAFE system, there is little opportunity to progress as previous generations have ; and with the Howard government’s policy on not co-investing in the automobile industry – leading to all manufacturers moving offshore – the vital apprenticeship pathway in that area of engineering technology has been closed off.

    Josh, don’t worry about us oldies, focus on our youth before they are forced to migrate to get training and careers.

  19. Barry Thompson.

    I did a number of different jobs throughout my 73 years including several years landscaping and paving-hard yakka in my forties let alone sixties. Most of my time was spent in the CES ( Commonwealth Employment Service)-about 23 years, followed by a 18 months in the new job market that followed the closure of the CES. At one stage I had a caseload of over 300 candidates, many of whom were over 40 years of age and had long work histories with employers such as the State Electricity Commission, Telecom, Country Fire Authority etc. These were not long term unemployed people but were made redundant due to privatisation and other reasons.
    I found it almost impossible to gain them interviews for jobs they could have readily performed because of age discrimination by potential employers. I am talking here about people in their 40’s upward !
    People who worked in physically demanding jobs in my experience are not capable of continuing such work in their mid 60’s. Sure, some are but that is not the norm.
    Mr Frydenberg to me does not look like a man accustomed to years of hard work. I may be wrong, but do not think so. He needs to come out of his cushy office and have a look at the sort of yakka people perform on a daily basis. Perhaps he should also meet with medical professionals and seek their advice about whether it is realistic to expect people over 65 to continue to work.
    I am no fan of the late Bob Menzies, but I believe he did not consider the Age Pension as welfare, but a well earned adjunct to the security of those who worked,paid Taxes and did their bit to make this a great country.
    Unfortunately they have to now be stressed and insulted like this by a Government that has proved to be the most incompetent, corrupt and uncaring I have witnessed in my years of following politics.

  20. New England Cocky

    @Kathryn: Thank you for your kind words. As I understand that local geography, the Insular Peninsular only allows white supremacists with an Caucasian pedigree going back at least four generations to reside in their elite society.

    On any weekend, any westies who catch the train right into Cronulla Beach are repelled by shock crock Alan Jones marshalling the locals to repel the infidels.

    @ Kaye Lee: I spent too many years chasing jobs thinking that my collection of academic paper was a guarantee of a satisfying career. Uhm, NOOOOOO ….. you are over 40 (by a long way) and your accumulated academic, business and life experience is worthless compared to any bright young thing aged under 25 who slept their way through education yet can hold a pencil and smile sweetly at the boss.

  21. Kaye Lee


    I have made it a policy to employ promising students wanting part-time work, young mothers, and women in their 50s and 60s. It has been a good combination providing the flexibility we all need.

    I don’t understand why employers shun older employees – they are much more reliable. There is, however, sometimes an issue of technological change that may be hard to keep up with. I would like to see young unemployed people paid to train older people to use new technology.

  22. Pete Petrass

    I was recently forced into retirement from the Department of Employment no less. I did level 2 desktop support, ie. if your computer had any issues I would come to your desk and fix it.
    Now I am 61 with palindromic arthritis and onset of osteoarthritis and because of this I had minor restrictions on how far I walked to sites we supported. Despite my age and arthritis I resolved significantly more jobs than anyone else on the team in a job I had been doing for 17 years. All of a sudden earlier this year I was declared unsuitable for the desktop role due to my restrictions and relocated to the level 1 help desk area, sitting stationary at a desk hanging off a phone all day (the exact opposite of what the doctor and medical review recommended – an element of mobility is most beneficial for arthritis sufferers). My choice was to be deskbound with suffering and pain from arthritis or to retire.
    Around the same time two of my colleagues, both in their 50s, were also forced into retirement for similar reasons, including being somewhat outspoken about the nepotism, cronyism, ageism and corruption that is rife within the Department. As an older person with a wealth of experience including 17 years in IT I was passed over for promotion for a single mother in her mid twenties with ZERO experience before effectively being demoted to the Help Desk.
    Nope, older people have no hope in a public service rife with nepotism, cronyism, ageism and corruption

  23. Andreas

    Mr Frydenberg, at the next sitting of Federal Parliament (whenever that might be) you could easily introduce changes to Australia’s taxation law, which would mandate EVERY FOREIGN Company operating here to PAY TAX.
    Now that would be a change, unheard of.
    As you are unlikely to take that step, I have to assume you are NOT working for the best interests of this country, as your oath of office demands.
    What are you then, a fraud or a traitor?

  24. Patricia

    Great article, thank you Keith.

    I guess that having spent 55 years in the workforce, actually working, and now into my 70’s was not enough.

    Managed to put enough aside so that I am self funded, not living the high life I can tell you but better than the age pension.

    Who would do all the volunteer (unpaid) work that the retired do, who would take the burden off their children with childcare that many retired women, and some men, do.

    How much do the retired actually save society by taking on work that is unpaid that no one else has time for, that the government refuses to fund, untold millions every year.

    Many of the over 60’s are not a burden on anyone but relieve the burden on social services with their unheralded work, and it is work, no matter how unappreciated by this government it is, no matter what this disgraceful government says.

    If all those who do volunteer work stopped doing it society as we know it would collapse. It is important work and it should be seen as such by the parasites that infest all levels of government. Governments that spend pubic money as though they get medals for how much they can spent, governments that use public money to feather their own nests, who take themselves and their families on lovely holidays and overseas junkets that most workers can only dream about. Governments that decide for themselves what is a proper use of pubic money but have the temerity to call those who provide those funds leaners, layabouts, bludgers and burdens.

    Friedandburnt has no idea about how most Australians live, he lives in his cosseted world, paid for by the sweat and toil of everyday Australians, he has never had a real job, never broken a sweat doing real work, never had to find a few dollars for his next meal, never had to make a decision about whether to buy his child a pair of shoes or food to feed it.

    Friedandburnt telling people who have worked and contributed all their lives that they are a burden on society needs to up his game.

    Interestingly enough it is many of those whom he now denigrates who put him and his government into the position that they now abuse.

  25. Michael Taylor

    Nothing used to rile me more than; “You’re over-qualified. We feel that you will always be on the lookout for something better.”

    The one that pissed me off the most was when I applied for a temp job within the department in an area I was qualified in, and being one I was busting to get back into: Aboriginal policy. Both my uni degrees are in Aboriginal studies, and as I was working in something absolutely boring (social security legislation and social security litigation) I was keen to grab this one. On top of that it was an at-level position.

    They phoned me a few days after the interview to say I’d missed out (to a young lass who wasn’t even at that level and who knew zilch), but … wanted to know if it was OK if they consulted me when they needed advice. WTF.

    Another time – going for a promotion in a tight field – (again in Aboriginal affairs) I missed out again to a young lass. One day soon after while HR I walked passed the room where a two-day “Introduction to Aboriginal customs” course was being and who should I see taking the course? The young lass.

    It’s obviously irrelevant that on both times the successful people were young ladies. They could easily have been young males. But they were never old males. Or old females.

  26. LambsFry Simplex.

    I would say you were being deliberately blocked, Michael Taylor.

  27. Kaye Lee

    ” at the next sitting of Federal Parliament (whenever that might be) ”

    In 2019, the House of Reps will sit for 45 days. They only get 45.5 weeks off a year to attend all those morning teas and sporting events. Give them a break. It’s a tough job. (Huge eye roll).

  28. LambsFry Simplex.

    EPIC eye roll, Kaye Lee.

  29. Keith Davis

    Michael Taylor: My heart is burning after what you wrote. When I was dumped out of Mission Australia (after initiating a whole series of Indigenous themed projects for them) I was asked, because of my experience with, and my empathy with the local Indigenous community, whether I would hang on long enough to share my valued experience with my replacement. My response to their ageist attitude was … ‘Get Stuffed’.

  30. Michael Taylor

    I doubt it, LambsFry, my references were excellent.

    What can happen – and often does – is that the selection criteria can be written ‘around’ the skills, experience and knowledge of who they want for the position. The successful applicant is decided upon before the job is even advertised.

    In the Public Service 90% of positions are won by whoever is the incumbent (acting in the position before it is permanently filled).

  31. Kaye Lee

    Or they can ignore selection criteria and due process completely eg Tim Wilson as a Human Rights Commissioner. Or Warren Mundine’s countless government jobs and grants.

  32. LambsFry Simplex.

    It s certainly a Utopia, the public service?

  33. Kaye Lee

    A friend’s daughter recently got a new job in the public service. She replaced someone who has gone on to be a script writer for Utopia. Sadly, it is very realistic according to those still stuck in the quagmire.

  34. Zathras

    I’m in my mid sixties and have been retired for a few years and have absolutely no wish to re-enter the workforce.

    I don’t want to participate in the current environment of worker exploitation, wage theft and the dog-eat-dog world of the gig economy. The working conditions I experienced were far different from those of today and I don’t want to perpetuate the current system by making an active contribution. Employer loyalty and dedication cannot be measured and so are now considered worthless.

    While not quite eligible for the Aged Pension yet (those goalposts were moved a few years ago) I’m in a position where I no longer pay income tax and can avail myself of Franking Credits if I wish.

    This is the world some of us sold our votes for years ago and the legacy of short-sighted opportunist politicians.

    I’ll just sit back and simply consume while I sadly watch the economy circle the drain and society eat itself.

  35. iggy648

    Stop bitchin’. Go get your RSA and forklift licence like everybody else.

  36. New England Cocky

    The Conversation catches up with AIMN:


    @MT et al: “over qualified”. I lived “education for life” taking academic or TAFE courses in every facet of my interests and work. Fifty years ago we were promised a 20 hour working week as the weekly full-time darg …. until the bosses believed that their personal wealth was more important and the average Australian worker was putting in 50+ hours often including unpaid overtime.

    Croneyism is rife in most organisations and recruiting by networking old boys/girls remains a preferred policy in many places. Certainly in my experience it overcomes qualifications or experience.

    @KL: “Utopia” reflects the current public service just as “Yes Minister” and Yes Prime Minister” both reflected the English Public Service of the 80s, and the scripts became texts for academic study of corporations theory.

  37. paul walter

    Up early and watching ABC Breakfast for a moment and the issue turns up, with an anecdote concerning thirty year old bosses and older people trying to compete for a job.

    The kid wonder interview comes across as uncomfortable for older people and it struck me that so much of this is about what the neo zealots refer to as “labor market reform” which is code for reversion through job shortages as to command away from collegiality, cooperation and task oriented employment to solve real world problems.

    We have had gender prejudice, race prejudice and a degree of political prejudice well evident for some time and now Ageism as yet another apparatus for churn and subjugation in an artificial job market in a country robbed of creativity and self determination, dumbed down and anxious as its real owners seek to gut it of wealth without resistance.

  38. nonsibicunctis

    Bravo! I’ll second that.

  39. me

    Thanks Kathryn,
    I agree with your comment;

    “This from an arrogant member of the same short-sighted pack of self-serving parasites who increased their OWN obscene, undeserved salaries no less than three times whilst they forced vulnerable Australians to eke out a below-subsistence living on Newstart, attacked and reviled pensioners and allowed the pittance wages and salaries of everyone else to stagnate for years on end!”

    I am sick of supporting a community that does not support me.

  40. Patagonian

    Wobbley, Joshie wouldn’t work in an iron lung.

  41. Danny

    The older generation are certainly not a burden on society at all.
    What a lying & self serving SCUMBAG!!

    Corrupt Politicians who are secretly working for the interests of the international criminal bankers, are the real burden on society!

    There is no ‘government’ of the people for the people of Australia. The removal of the Crown from Australian Parliaments, followed by the incorporation of Parliaments aided by the Australia Act 1987 has left us with corporate government with policies not laws, that apply only to members of political parties and the public service. There is no law, other than the Common Law.

  42. Jack sprat

    Holymo as treasurer was responsible for putting the pension age up to seventy but just prior to election he reduced it to sixty seven knowing it was political dynamite. Labor failure was to go on and on about franking credits which the government used as a weapon to imply labor was anti retiree even though most retirees do not receive these credits . labor should have attacked holymo on raising the pension age prior to the election to show how ageist his party is.

  43. Paul Davis

    Hello Wobbley, if Josh Frydenberg and his fellow ministers truly believe that “work will set you free” then perhaps employment minister Cash could have this slogan emblazoned on each Centrelink office, perhaps tastefully rendered in some wrought iron gatework?

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