Businessman Clive Palmer gestures as he leaves the Supreme Court in Brisbane, Tuesday, July 16, 2019. Liquidators are trying to claw back $200 million in claims owed by Mr Palmer over the collapse of Queensland Nickel. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING

Claim about pensioners living in poverty is inaccurate

FactCheck August 9, 2019

The Statement

AAP FactCheck examined a post by (Liberal National Party) LNP out NOW on August 3, 2019 claiming 35.5 per cent of Australians aged 65 and over are “living in relative poverty”.

Australia currently is the fourth worst-performing country for pensioners living in poverty.

The post features a picture of Prime Minister Scott Morrison as well as the percentage of the 65+ population in 14 countries living in relative poverty. The source of the percentages is attributed to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

The post is captioned “world leader”, and contains a link to a 2015 OECD report.

LNP out NOW was created in 2014 for “all who want the LNP out of office now”, and has over 2,400 likes.

AAP FactCheck traced the post back to businessman, former Senator and United Australia Party leader Clive Palmer’s verified Facebook page. It was posted on February 1, 2019 and shared over 700 times with 1,300 reactions and over 320 comments.

The same post had been shared by a number of other Facebook pages including ‘AusPol’s right-wing lunatic watch’ and ‘Fair Go for Pensioners -FGFP Coalition Victoria Incorporated’, as well as individuals. Collectively the post has amassed over 3,600 shares.

Some of the other captions in the other posts include “How good is Australia…”, “Better economic managers? He’s economically managing the poor old pensioners to death”, and “How good is Australia ScuMo!?”.

The same post has also been shared on Twitter here and here.

The Analysis

The link in the caption is for the OECD’s Pensions at a Glance 2015 report which analyses a number of statistics, including on page 171 of the report, the proportion of over 65s living in relative poverty .

Australians are eligible for the aged pension when they turned 66, but by 2023 the age limit will be raised to 67.

The relative poverty threshold is set by the OECD, among others, at 50 per cent of the median average household disposable income.

The post was traced back to Clive Palmer’s Facebook page on February 1, 2019.

Of the 14 countries listed in the post, the percentage of over 65s living in relative poverty for nine countries was correctly quoted.

The figures for five – Spain, Poland, Italy, Turkey and Australia – were incorrect by between 0.1 and 2 per cent.

Australia was quoted as 35.5 per cent, but according to the report, 33.5 per cent of people aged 65-plus live in relative poverty.

Of the countries included in the post, Australia had the highest ranking by over 10 per cent. The only OECD country to rank worse than Australia in the full list was Korea, which was not included in the post, where 49.6 per cent of the over 65 population live in relative poverty.

However according to page 135 of the most recent OECD Pensions at a Glance report, from 2017, Australia’s poor ranking improved.

Based on the 2017 data Australia now ranks fourth, with 25.7 per cent living in relative poverty. The worst performing country was still Korea at 45.7 per cent, then Latvia at 26.5 and Mexico at 25.6. 

The Verdict 

Based on this evidence, AAP FactCheck found the post to be false. Some of the 2015 OCED data quoted is incorrect and the 2015 OECD report it relied on is out of date.

False – The Facebook post is false.

 First published August 9, 2019 14:00 AEST

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