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Retirees helped as PM makes election pitch

Scott Morrison has sharpened his pre-election pitch to “quiet Australians” with an announcement to extend help to self-funded retirees.

The prime minister used a speech to the Liberal Party federal council meeting in Canberra on Saturday to reveal the extension of the 50 per cent temporary reduction in superannuation minimum drawdown requirements.

Many retirees have been hit by losses in financial markets during the coronavirus pandemic.

To address this, the government reduced the minimum annual payment required for account-based pensions and annuities, allocated pensions and annuities and market-linked pensions and annuities by 50 per cent for the 2019/20 and the 2020/21 financial years.

Mr Morrison told the 250-strong federal council the government would extend it to June 30 next year.

“This will afford greater flexibility and enable greater self sufficiency,” he said.

The prime minister drew on the vision of Sir Robert Menzies, who 67 years ago on Saturday led the Liberals to victory against Labor having pulled together 18 disparate groups to form the party.

“Unity is how you gain the trust and keep the trust of the Australian people in government,” he said.

Introducing the prime minister, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Liberal Party had always been “the party of workers”.

He said Sir Robert had his “forgotten people”, John Howard had his “battlers” and “Scomo has his quiet Australians”.

“We the Liberal Party are not here to serve big business, we the Liberal Party are not here to serve big unions, we the Liberal Party are here to serve the Australian people.”

Earlier, the party’s campaign director Andrew Hirst said the next election would be a “tough fight” against a cashed-up Labor and based on redrawn seats less favourable to the coalition.

The lower house and half-Senate election could be as close as August 7 or Mr Morrison could wait until as late as May 21, 2022.

“Every election is different but one thing we know is Labor will be dishonest and will be desperate to win,” Mr Hirst said.

Seat redistributions in WA and Victoria would make the party’s task more difficult and union campaign spending and direct support to Labor would make the need for fundraising crucial, he said.

Mr Hirst noted unions in 2018/19 had spent $35 million on campaigning and donated a further $14 million to the ALP.

Mr Morrison attended a fundraiser on Friday night to support women candidates at the next election.

Life membership was conferred on former Northern Territory chief minister Shane Stone and a video tribute to former leader Andrew Peacock was shown.

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