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Planning for the Ageing Population is Urgent

Council of the Ageing (COTA) has responded to Treasurer Joe Hockey’s comments calling for an increase in the pension age, saying the organisation has been calling for a coordinated approach to planning for the ageing population for months.

Pensioners and seniors across Australia are growing increasingly alarmed by the Government’s surprise
and haphazard announcements in response to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing
population, says COTA Australia CE Ian Yates.

“COTA Australia has been calling for months for a coordinated approach to planning for the ageing
population, with all major stakeholders involved.

“Yes we can talk about the pension age but at the same time we have to discuss superannuation –
which is currently inequitable, inefficient and costs the taxpayer just as much as the pension – together
with health care, housing, employment and the pernicious effects of age discrimination – they all need
to be in the mix.

“The ageing population poses serious questions and also presents opportunities – and we need serious
well researched answers, not throw away lines in media conferences which seems to be the
Treasurer’s current modus operandi.

Mr Yates said the pension went through a major review in 2008/09 and the results were supported by
the Coalition as well as Labor. The pension age is already due to increase by six months every two years
from July 2017 to 67 years in July 2023, and the pension income test taper was tightened in 2009.
Treasury said then that the new system was now sustainable – what has changed?

“In addition given the ongoing issues of age discrimination in our society and particularly in the
workforce, increasing the pension age will just push more older workers onto Newstart for longer,
increasing other costs on the federal budget and causing major health issues.

“This is hardly the solution to future budget challenges and that’s why we need real leadership to
approach this in a coordinated way.”

“Let’s treat older Australians with respect rather than scaring them with surprise announcements
about losing the pension; and let’s have a considered discussion based on good research and evidence
with all players involved.”
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