Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

European court decision lets down UK pensioners again

The Australian Government is again disappointed by the decision of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, which will continue to deny indexed pensions to hundreds of thousands of United Kingdom pensioners living in Australia.

This decision is another blow to the 250,000 UK pensioners living in Australia who paid their contributions into the UK National Insurance Fund in good faith.

The British Government refuses to index its pensions paid to expatriates who live in Commonwealth countries such as Australia, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand. However UK pensions are fully indexed to people who live in the European Union, the USA, the Philippines, Israel and other countries.

The Australian Government believes this policy is discriminatory.

We have been actively lobbying the UK Government on this issue. I raised this issue face-to-face with the then UK Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions and the Australian Government will continue to pursue this matter.

The UK’s policy severely disadvantages UK pensioners living in Australia, as over time their UK pensions have declined in real value.

This policy continues to place an increasing burden on all Australian taxpayers, as the Australian Government picks up the tab for around 170,000 UK pensioners who also receive means-tested Australian pensions – estimated at about $100 million per year in additional social security payments.

Australia terminated our social security agreement with the United Kingdom in 2001 because of this issue.

I congratulate the pensioners involved in the case for their tenacity and dedication in fighting hard for a fair go.

The Australian Government will continue to support UK pensioners living in Australia.