Local seniors update

Column Articles
Friday, July 29, 2016

It has been an immense privilege to serve as the Member of Parliament for the Bay of Plenty for almost two years now. Of the many learnings I have had, one of the most striking is how actively engaged our seniors are in our community.  There simply isn’t a community group that doesn’t have someone with a few years wisdom who is sharing that for the benefit of many.  I thank you, and our wider community thanks you.  Your attitude and commitment to the fabric of our society does you immense credit - it is even more impressive that most of you will just shrug your shoulders and say it’s just what you do.

In my recent electorate survey a couple of issues came through that effect you that I wanted to talk about.

I am happy to let you know that recent claims the SuperGold card is being killed off are just wrong. In fact, Budget 2016 provides an additional $41 million of operating funding for the scheme over the next four years. This is on top of baseline funding of $18 million a year bringing our total annual investment to around $28 million a year.

The SuperGold card is just part of the Government’s package supporting older New Zealanders. We have increased funding for health to a record $16.1 billion including a $250 million increase in funding for aged residential care and $76 million to improve hospice and palliative care. Superannuation has gone up 34 per cent since 2008, and more businesses than ever are part of the SuperGold scheme, now 8,000 businesses offer SuperGold discounts – up from 876 in 2008.  We have also allocated $39 million to start the roll out of a national bowel screening programme and $124 million for Pharmac to provide more New Zealanders with access to new medicines in Budget 2016.  As always a solid economy remains critical for us to have these choices in Government spending.

I was recently involved in supporting the Elder Abuse awareness week and it is extremely important that light be shone on this issue. There are many forms and nuances of elder abuse and our community needs to keep aware of the pressure points and ensure that our vulnerable people are kept safe. Age Concern Tauranga and a number of other agencies are available to help should you suspect or fall victim to elder abuse and it is vital that we all reach out to our fellow elders and community members to ensure that everyone is kept safe.

As you help the community, the community needs to help you in your moments of need in my view.