No stranger to a lonely sausage, or for that matter to the near-naked form of Senator Steve Fielding, that’s pensioner activist Shirley Grant, seen here from this week’s tabloid shock treatment of Stroganoff-gate and back in May (at right) when she wrangled a small sea of grandparents in their sensible undies in support of a pension increase in the federal budget.

Pensioners are vocal, well organised and readily accessible to a conservative media, a media for whom grannies living on sausages form an acceptable face of social disadvantage. Single parent families scraping by in the back seats of cars … not so much. Pensioners are hard working Aussie battlers after all. Homeless, single mother, violence victims? They should get a job.

On the same day that pensioner rent-a-whingers were campaigning for a rise in their already indexed stipends and railing against the obsession with portion size in the parliamentary canteen, the 2008 Australian Catholic Social Justice Statement was being all but ignored by the Australian media. We report on its findings today in Crikey, a statement that found that true poverty in Australia afflicts the disabled, the homeless, the mentally ill, the indigenous and asylum seekers. The report did not mention pensioners, a group whose circumstances, despite their appeal to press and politicians, didn’t rate on this scale of what constitutes desperate poverty, disadvantage and need.

Peter Fray

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