One-third of pensioners are left to rot in poverty, a new study into the age pension has found.

Nearly 1 million pensioners are in economic hardship. “The pollies want pensioners to fall into a pine box at 70, but they’re on great pensions”, a participant in the study said.

Pensioners shared their experiences of deprivation in the report, The adequacy of the age pension in Australia. It shows that payments are far too low.

In one of the richest countries in the world, many elderly people are unable to pay for basic home maintenance and have to grow their own food or beg charities for some. They choose between medicine and meals, live without hot water, airconditioning and heating, rely on their kids to tie up loose ends, and watch as the dream of living in comfort is snatched away.

“Life is not worth living unless it has some quality. Just surviving is not a good life”, a pensioner from Toowoomba said.

The study was conducted by the Benevolent Society, the Longevity Innovation Hub and think tank Per Capita.

The money is there to increase the pension. The Australian Taxation Office reports that nearly 600 of the biggest companies paid no tax in the 2013-14 financial year. Their combined turnover was more than $400 billion.

So as aged pensioners starve, the corporate fat cats get fatter and fatter, stocking their business parties with foie gras and lining their dinner tables with cocaine.