Retirement Incomes Review A Start Toward Improvements Needed In Australia’s Retirement Incomes System To Ensure Certainty, Adequacy And Sustainability

Leading seniors advocate and age consumer peak, COTA Australia, today welcomed the announcement that the federal Tax White Paper process will be broadened to include a more intensive review of retirement incomes involving extensive consultation with key stakeholders, including seniors’ representatives.

COTA Chief Executive Ian Yates said COTA has long been calling for such a review to ensure Australia has a secure, sustainable retirement system on which seniors can rely for the next thirty years and beyond.

“Changing pension arrangements here, changes to superannuation arrangements there – all governments, both sides of the political divide, have been and remain guilty of it,” Mr Yates said.

“Seniors, it seems, are an easy target to extract budget savings from or splash pre-election largesse upon when there is money to do so.

“As a result we have an unbalanced, unsustainable and inequitable system.

“A system that allows wealthy people to use generous superannuation tax concessions as a tax haven when they don’t even need superannuation or the pension, while unemployed people up to the age of 65 live off the paltry Newstart Allowance and slide into poverty long before they even qualify for the age pension.

“What we really need is an independent, well-resourced review that looks in an integrated way at superannuation policies – in both the accumulation and spending phases, pensions, mature age employment barriers, appropriate housing, funding aged care needs and other retirement issues and develops a pathway forward to an adequate, sustainable and equitable system that can be endorsed by all sides of politics.

“Only then can people be given some surety that the goal posts for how they plan to manage their retirement will stop moving.

“The more limited review announced last night by the Government, as part of the agreement with the Greens to pass the proposed pension changes, is less than we argued for but will go some way to starting the process.

“COTA commends the Greens for responding to our representations and insisting that support for pension changes be accompanied by a review. We also commend the Government for agreeing to broaden the Tax White paper process. COTA looks forward to a central involvement in this going forward.”

Mr Yates encouraged the Government to make sure the extended review was robust, considered all aspects of retirement incomes, and mapped a path for constructive reform.

He said the review needed to include:
the long term future of the age pension and other benefits, including eligibility criteria and adequacy;
the effectiveness and efficiency of superannuation tax arrangements;
measures to enhance and optimise retirees’ use of and earnings from their assets;
developing a better market of products and services to support retirement needs.
“We need a robust, holistic approach to policy across the retirement incomes space and I hope all Parties and stakeholders make the most of the opportunity offered by this extension of the Tax White Paper process.”

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.