Further Sign Of Flexibility On Pension Changes Welcome But Still Need Broader Review Of Retirement Incomes

Comments on the age pension made by Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison, in an interview with Sky News Australian Agenda this morning, have been welcomed by Australia’s peak body for all older Australians.

Ian Yates, Chief Executive of leading seniors advocate COTA Australia, said that in response to questions Mr Morrison had indicated that:

The government is not wedded to its current approaches to the age pension;
Has not ruled out a review of eligibility criteria for the pension in addition to indexation;
Is open to other alternatives on pension indexation; and
Is prepared to have a continuing conversation with key stakeholders.
“It is most encouraging to hear the Minister open to discussion about pension policy,” Mr Yates said.

“CPI-only indexation of the pension erodes the income of full pensioners who have no other means of generating an income, and little or no assets. It’s the wrong place to start. That’s why it’s important to take a holistic approach to the retirement space and put everything on the table.

“We have said we are prepared to look at ideas which help strengthen the pension sustainability for the future but only if the government includes all related retirement issues in the discussion,” Mr Yates said.

Mr Yates called for the government’s approach to also bring to the table all other aspects of retirement incomes including the size and distribution of superannuation tax concessions, the superannuation preservation age, taxation of retirement incomes, mature age workforce policies, and funding aged care.

“These are outside Minister Morrison’s portfolio responsibilities but the government needs to ensure they are included in discussions alongside the pension to ensure a sustainable Budget over time is fair to everyone in their retirement.

“The government persists in handing the bulk of superannuation concessions to the top 20 percent of income earners – who will never qualify for the pension anyway – so government saves nothing on pension expenditure.

“COTA has been calling on the government for a comprehensive, independent retirement incomes review for many months, a call supported by the Business Council of Australia and other bodies.

“I welcome Social Services Minister Scott Morrison thinking about alternate ways of addressing Budget challenges while ensuring Australian pensioners are not pushed below the poverty line. Now the government needs to look at the retirement income space in totality.”

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.