Living in a caravan? Going to live in a third world country? Or shacking up with relatives? If you have no assets and are approaching retirement age, is Australia still a friendly country to impoverished elderly people? This article, I must confess, is a little too close to home for me, as I fall into this neglected category. The world has played hard and fast with my dreams and I am now entering the last half of my life (optimistically), with little cash and very few assets. I should have listened to Paul Keating all those years ago.
For, it was Mister Keating who chaperoned in the term ‘superannuation’ into our collective consciousnesses. It was he who warned us about “the banana republic” and it was during the Hawke/Keating administration that we all had to become economic experts. Prior to this nobody gave a fig about balance of payments and interest rates, well apart from a bunch of bankers and accountants that is. Now, we are all economically literate and know the name of the governor of the Reserve Bank; good old smiley face Glen Stevens.
What hope is there for people with little or no superannuation? With the price of a cappuccino cresting six bucks in Sydney, and a two bedroom bungalow going for just under a million dollars in Melbourne, I wonder which park bench I am going to end up sleeping on soon? When Skyhook’s Shirley Strachan ended up on a home show on TV I knew that the world was changing. Ego was no longer a dirty word and all those friends who were getting married were now onto their third divorce. Every man, woman and transvestite, in every Australian city, was now an amateur property developer.
I blame John Howard and his nineteen fifties vision of Australia; with all those homes with white picket fences. It was like the whole country became a gentrified estate for agents to lie about. ‘DIY gold mine’ and ‘renovator’s dream’ became bywords for mums and dads everywhere. Slums disappeared and street people were looking for new homes, as their doss houses were developed into designer buildings for yuppies. There is no hope for the poor in the twenty first century, as social care is outsourced and social responsibility slips from the lexicon through lack of use. Washing windscreens at busy intersections, amid the poisonous diesel fumes of expensive Volkswagens, seems a more than likely outcome.