Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

European Court decision lets down pensioners

The Australian Government is disappointed by yesterday’s ruling from the European Court of Human Rights which continues to deny indexed pensions to hundreds of thousands of UK pensioners living in Australia.

The Court’s ruling in favour of the UK Government’s refusal to pay indexed pensions into countries such as Australia, is cold comfort to over half a million expatriate UK pensioners.

The Australian Government believes the UK’s policy is discriminatory, even if the Court found it technically lawful.

The UK Government’s policy should recognise the compelling arguments for paying UK pensioners their proper entitlements.

These people have contributed over many years to earn their pension rights on the same basis as people living in the UK, and former UK residents now living in the USA, Israel or the Philippines, who receive indexed pensions.

There are more than 245,000 UK pensioners in Australia and over time their UK pensions continue to decline in value, leaving Australian taxpayers to pick up the tab. Around 170,000 of these UK pensioners also receive means-tested Australian pensions.

Many of the pensioners served in the UK armed forces and risked their lives defending their country. It is appalling for them to be treated like this.

The Australian Government has been lobbying the UK Government on this issue and will continue to pursue this matter with the UK Government on behalf of all UK pensioners in Australia.

Pensioners are considering whether to appeal the decision.