The release of another report today about how Australians can best manage the challenges of funding their retirement again reinforces the need for an urgent, coordinated comprehensive review of retirement policy, said leading seniors advocates COTA Australia.
The Australia Institute report calls for government to change the rules of the Pension Loan Scheme to allow pensioners to add to their retirement income by borrowing against their equity in their home, with the outlay recouped from their estate.
COTA Australia CE Ian Yates said the arguments put in the report were worth consideration alongside a myriad of others.
“Various think tanks, stakeholder groups and interested peak bodies over the last twelve months have been busy coming up with ideas on how Australia can address the challenges of sustainably managing the retirement needs of an ageing population,” Mr Yates said.
“Conversely, the best the government can come up with is raising the pension age to make Australian pensioners the oldest in the developed world, and changing the six monthly indexation formula to save government billions of dollars – which will reduce the pension by $30 per week over four years, $80 per week in 10 years, and growing every year.
“This is an extremely unfair approach – hitting most those who can least afford it, full pensioners with little or no assets or income.
“At the same time, as the Australia Institute notes, tax concessions received on superannuation are almost as much as the total cost of the pension and are increasing, and predominantly go to higher income earners.
“It’s time we got all the best minds in the room who have looked at the ins and outs of current polices and talked to older people, to discuss and debate the best way forward, taking in the whole picture – pensions, superannuation, taxation and mature age employment issues.
“A government-initiated independent review of retirement incomes is the best way to ensure we have the right policies in place and older Australians are being treated fairly and equitably.
“COTA again calls for the changes to the pension – yet to be voted on by the Senate – to be put on hold until such a review is complete.”
COTA is running a campaign against the unfair changes to the pension announced in the Federal Budget. Supporters can sign up to the Hand Off the Pension campaign at https://www.cota.org.au/australia/
Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Olivia Greentree 0439 411 774.