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COTA

Let’s put an end to alarmist pension headlines and review retirement incomes properly

Media Release 2nd March 2016

Leading seniors advocate, COTA Australia, today renewed its call for a considered, holistic and independent Retirement Incomes Review in light of yet another round of exaggerated claims about the age pension.

COTA Australia CE, Yates said, that despite alarmist media headlines today claiming pensioners are demanding more than their fair share of tax-payer dollars, the Centre for Independent Studies report to which they refer, actually makes some reasonable recommendations about our retirement incomes system which an independent review should seriously consider.

"It is disappointing that yet again we are seeing such alarmist claims about the impact of the pension on the federal budget's bottom line," Mr Yates said.

"The fact is, access to the pension was significantly tightened only last year and all the expert reports consistently show we have one of the most modest and targeted pension systems in the world.

"The OECD's 2015 Pensions at a Glance report shows that Australia's pension system is sustainable over the long term, spending just 3.5 per cent of GDP on age pensions, compared to the OECD average of 7.9 per cent.

"The OECD also recently found that more than one third of Australian pensioners are living below the poverty line, ranking the country among the worst for ensuring financial security for the elderly.

"Again we see demonising of pensioners when our inequitable retirement system rewards the highest income earners with such generous superannuation tax concessions that they will soon have the same impact on the Federal Budget as the whole age pension.

"Week after week, claims and counter claims in the media by various politicians, think tanks and other commentators equates to an unsettling environment for all retirees.

"The only way to avoid this is for a sensible, independent review of the whole retirement incomes space for which COTA has been calling for almost two years, supported by business peaks, superannuation groups and other seniors' advocates, and the National Reform Summit.

"The Federal Government made a commitment last year to make retirement incomes a part of the Tax White Paper review process but this seems to have derailed and that means this debate continues to rage in the public domain without a rational framework for evidence based discussion.

"With an election looming I again urge all parties to have a more considered and holistic approach to our tax, super, aged care and pension system so older people have certainty and security about their future, and our financial system is not continuously destabilized by policy uncertainty."

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Jenny Stokes 0478 504 280 .

COTA Australia is the peak policy development, advocacy and representation organisation for older Australians, representing COTAs in every State and Territory and through them over 500,000 older Australians.

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