At every level, Australia’s relationship with the United Kingdom is deep and enduring. We share so much in terms of our people-to-people contacts, our values and our history. It therefore saddens me to have to raise a dark blot on that relationship. I refer to the treatment of the 234,000 people who have migrated to Australia and receive a British state pension.
For reasons which ignore any sense of fairness or equity, British pension recipients in Australia are treated differently from those resident in the United Kingdom, or indeed in some other parts of the world. For those living in the UK, the pension is indexed. For those living in Australia, it is frozen in time from the moment they left or leave the UK. This is despite the fact that British pensioners in Australia have all contributed to the United Kingdom’s National Insurance scheme. Unlike our own pension, it is a scheme based on the contributory principle. This policy is manifestly unfair.
I know this is a matter our government has pursued with our British counterparts and the cause has the support of the Prime Minister. We should redouble those efforts to ensure that those who are effectively being ripped off by the UK government are no longer disadvantaged so harshly. It is a matter I hope we continue to raise at the most senior levels of the British government, so that the many residents in my electorate, and indeed across Australia, eligible for a British pension are supported, rather than forgotten in a way that is unjust and unfair.