Saving the pension

More than 75 per cent of Australians aged 65 plus are living on a full or part Age Pension. This is not because they have failed to save enough for retirement, or spent their kid’s assumed inheritance. It is because, happily, they have and will probably continue to live far longer than previous generations – another 25–30 years in most cases.

So, few can be expected to have saved enough to fund another 30 years. And given that compulsory superannuation only started in 1992 – starting at 2.5 per cent of wages and salary – 60-something Australians simply haven’t had time to benefit from this mandatory retirement policy. So it’s onto the pension they will go. And despite the perception that older Australians are a burden on other generations, who would really choose to exist on a measly $427 (single Age Pension) or $644 (couples Age Pension) per week?

So when we heard the Treasurer’s announcement of cuts to the pension in the May 2014 Budget, we saw red – a sea of red ink for those already living a life of subsistence in retirement.

The proposed changes include many things that are simply unfair by any measure. In particular, the increase in the age of Age Pension entitlement from 67 to 70 is a punishment for older workers who cannot get work, often through no fault of their own. Until there are jobs available and no age discrimination against older jobseekers, there is no case to put people through these years of Newstart misery.

For those who already receive the Age Pension, the proposed change in indexation –removing the benchmark of the Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE) to use only the CPI (starting 1 July 2017) – will mean, within 10 years, a drop in real income of $80 per week, according to the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS).

So read the next page to learn about our partnership with activist organisation GetUp to create an online petition which you can sign and share to protect the Age Pension from death by 1000 cuts.

You are not on your own

Kaye Fallick

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