The changing demographics of the Australian population requires urgent attention in the coming Federal budget including a major review of the entire retirement incomes space, says a position paper released today by leading seniors advocate COTA Australia.
COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates said the position paper, A secure, livable income for all older Australians, was developed in response to, and as a further contribution to, the refreshed debate currently occurring around superannuation, pensions, tax and mature age employment.
Mr Yates said all these issues, plus others like paying for aged care, needed to be considered all together, as pulling a lever in one part of the system usually has significant consequences in other parts.
He said the position paper included seven recommendations designed to improve the standard of living of vulnerable older people and to create a fairer retirement system that will provide income security in retirement for all older Australians at sustainable cost to the Budget.
The recommendations include:
An urgent, independent Retirement Incomes Review considering all factors in the retirement income space;
Withdrawal of the current Bill to change pension indexation to CPI only to ensure any future pension changes do not erode the living standards of people who rely on the age pension for all or most of their income;
Consider the effectiveness and sustainability of superannuation tax concessions as part of the Retirement Incomes Review;
Reinstate the funding for pensioner concessions in the states and territories while the Retirement Incomes Review is undertaken.
Mr Yates said the debate about retirement incomes had started in the wrong place with the proposed reduction of pension indexation, and had been followed by more and more partial and piecemeal proposals from a growing number of commentators.
“Uncertainty around the retirement incomes space has to stop and we need a substantially bi-partisan approach, achievable through the recommendations of an independent, comprehensive Review, informed by key stakeholders and experts, to deliver a fair and sustainable system for all older Australians into the future.
“We have said that almost everything can be on the table, provided it includes superannuation and tax, but all these competing proposals are making older people nervous and worried about what’s ahead for them.
“The upcoming Federal Budget provides the perfect platform to announce a proper Retirement Incomes Review which will provide a sound, evidence based framework for this and future generations of retirees.
“I urge the government to consider the merits of the COTA Position Paper and think about the long term needs of older Australians for certainty, sustainability and fairness.”
The paper can be accessed at https://www.cota.org.au/australia/News/NewsList/2015/a-secure-liveable-income-for-older-australians.aspx
Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Olivia Greentree 0439 411 774.
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.