Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

UK House of Lords decision lets down pensioners

The Howard Government is very disappointed by a ruling from the United Kingdom’s House of Lords Appeal Committee, which continues to deny indexed pensions for nearly a quarter of a million UK pensioners living in Australia.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, rejected today’s ruling by the Committee that it was lawful for the UK Government to refuse to pay indexed pensions into countries, such as Australia.

“The ruling is both unfair and discriminatory and I will not let the matter rest here,” Senator Patterson said.

“The Howard Government still believes the UK’s policy is discriminatory in a moral sense, even if it were technically lawful.

“The UK government’s policy is simply unfair and it should recognise the compelling moral arguments for paying UK pensioners their proper entitlements.

“These people have contributed over many years to earn their pension rights. They have contributed on the same basis as people living in the UK, former residents now in the all European Union countries and other selected countries such as the United States, Israel or the Philippines. Yet they are denied the same benefits.

“There are more than 236,400 UK pensioners in Australia and over time their UK pensions become increasingly worthless, leaving Australian taxpayers to pick up the tab. About 170,000 of these UK pensioners also receive means-tested Australian pensions.

“I will continue to pursue this matter with the UK government on behalf of all UK pensioners in Australia, and even more importantly the Australian taxpayer.

“I am considering further actions that we might take and am committed to resolving this issue,” Senator Patterson said.