Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says that moves away from coal, which his government agreed to at the recent COP26 summit in Glasgow, could jeopardise future government services, including the Age Pension.
His remarks come after the federal government last week attempted to reassure voters that the Age Pension was ‘here to stay’, in an attempt to allay lingering fears in the lead-up to the federal election.
Speaking on RN Breakfast on Tuesday, Mr Joyce said that if Australia suffered the economic consequences of abandoning coal, there would be consequences for what the government was able to provide.
“I want to make sure Australians don’t make themselves poorer,” he said. “If we kick out the door (of) our second biggest export in this nation, then quite obviously you are not bringing into this nation the money you need to support all the services that you take as a birth right from the ABC to your NDIS, to your pensions, to your Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, to your hospitals, you police services, the whole bang lot.”
Mr Joyce said that globally there was still high demand for Australia’s coal and implied that the nation should be thankful that was the case.
“If people don’t want to buy it (coal), they don’t want to buy it,” he said “But they’re there now buying it, and we’re lucky that they are because the money that we get from that is how we pay for your hospitals, your schools, your police force, your NDIS, your Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the ABC and on and on and on it goes.
“You can’t say, ‘I’m going to reduce the money I get but I still want all the services that it pays for.’ It is just patently child-like.”
Mr Joyce’s comments linking the future of the Age Pension to Australia’s dependence on coal fly in the face of the government’s efforts to reassure older Australians about the future of the Age Pension.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia National Policy Forum that the government had to do a better job of making it known that the Age Pension was safe from government cuts after the Retirement Income Review found that many people did not think the Age Pension would be there when they retired.
“Clearly, we must do more to reassure all Australians that this concern is unfounded,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“The review’s findings could not be clearer. The Age Pension is well targeted and sustainable and will remain a key pillar of our system for generations to come.
“The cost of the Age Pension is projected to decline from 2.5 per cent of GDP in 2020 to 2.3 per cent of GDP in 2060,” he said.
“And while the cost of superannuation tax concessions will grow from 2 per cent of GDP to 2.6 per cent over that time, the overall cost of the retirement income system will continue to be relatively low by international standards.
“This means, unlike a lot of other countries around the world, we have a retirement income system that is both sustainable today and well into the future.”
Mr Frydenberg also said that the retirement income review had found that because of the way the pension system was designed, it could cope with economic shocks.
“Along with being sustainable, the review also showed that our system is resilient,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“That is, it can continue to provide adequate outcomes for retirees through economic shocks and downturns.”
Do you think the government will try to cut services as a result of the world moving away from coal in future? Do you think the Deputy Prime Minister cares about pensioners, when he so flippantly discusses cuts to the Age Pension? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?
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