07 April 2014
Abbott leaves door open on aged pension changes
I am confident that pensioners will get a good deal from this government.
PM declines to rule out changes such as raising pension age, instead telling pensioners he will get rid of the carbon tax
Tony Abbott has left the door open to making changes to the aged pension after reports the Commission of Audit recommended it be indexed differently.
The prime minister refused to rule out changes when directly asked, instead saying he could reassure pensioners he would get rid of the carbon tax.
The age of eligibility for the pension could be raised to 70; indexation could be changed so it does not increase too much faster than inflation; and the family home could be included in the asset test if it is worth more than $1m.
When asked if he was concerned about the size of the aged pension and if Australians need to accept that changes should be made, Abbott replied:
Obviously, as we have known for quite some time now, there is a demographic issue that our country is grappling with.
Just on the subject of the aged pension, the reassurance that I want to give to pensioners is that you will lose the carbon tax but keep the compensation. You will lose the carbon tax but keep the compensation. That is why I am confident that pensioners will get a good deal from this government.
Abbott said former Liberal treasurer Peter Costello had introduced intergenerational reports to alert people to the fact that the workforce was shrinking.
When asked directly if the pension was going to lose its higher rate of indexation, Abbott said he was not going to comment on recommendations the Commission of Audit may or may not have made.
We will release the Commission of Audit before the budget so people will have plenty of time to read its report, to digest its recommendations and to debate them, he said.
The shadow assistant treasurer, Andrew Leigh, said the question of whether the age of the pension should be raised to 70 was a good one.
My concern is that the pension was put in place to reduce poverty among older Australians and I'm worried by any proposal that sees the pension do less to reduce poverty among older Australians.
he told the Bolt Report.
We know that, for people in jobs like the ones that you or I do, the physical condition of your body may not matter too much. But if you're a blue-collar worker, then the idea of saying that, Well, white-collar workers can get their super at age 60. You have to wait until age 70. Keep on working as a cleaner or a factory hand til 70, seems pretty rough to me.
The shadow minister for families and payments, Jenny Macklin, attacked Abbott over the report saying the government was using its secretive Commission of Audit to manufacture a crisis that is not there. Macklin said Australia spent 3.5% of its GDP on the aged pension, compared with 7.8% across the OECD in 2009.
As well as flagging pension cuts, we are once again seeing the government deliberately fabricating facts to create a sense of crisis as cover for its cuts. she said. Make no mistake, any change to the pension would be a clear broken promise, and a betrayal of Australia's pensioners.
Macklin demanded the government rule out any changes to the pension.