Australia’s audacious bid to top the world’s longevity ladder

Innovation chief calls on Government to encourage genomics study to boost longevity.

Aussies should live longer: report

A newly released blueprint on innovation has called on the Federal Government to support putting Australia at the top of the world’s longevity ladder.

The paper, “Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation” – which was led by Innovation and Science Australia chair Bill Ferris – states that Australia currently achieves a life expectancy of 82.5 years for a “modest” $5566 expenditure per person.

“It is feasible for Australia to become the number one country for both life expectancy and quality adjusted life years, and in doing so lead the world in intelligent, efficient and cost-effective health delivery,” the blueprint continues.

It has called for further investment in medicines based on genomics, the study of genes, to help cure life-threatening illnesses.

Currently, Japan has the longest-lived citizens at around 84 years of age, followed by Spain, Italy, Iceland and Switzerland. Australia comes in at number six.

Opinion: Who is going to take care of the elderly?

Each time the issue around the ageing Australian population is flagged, it prompts a backlash from mostly younger generations complaining that seniors are too big a burden.

And now, the Federal Government has been asked to consider making us live even longer still by investing in research to produce genomics-based drugs!

Without explaining how society is going to cope with an increase in the number of oldies, the thought bubble from the Innovation and Science Australia crew seems inane.

The think tank’s blueprint actually puts the case against increasing the number of oldies when it states: “Australia’s ageing population means a retirement boom is looming, which will create a 6 per cent shortfall in the number of workers needed to maintain current gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2030

“Employment growth, which has historically been a major driver of long-run GDP growth, cannot be relied on for future growth. Australia’s workforce size is peaking due to an ageing population and retirement.”

It further reports that Australia already punches above its weight on the number of migrants it takes in each year and concludes: “Like other developed countries, Australia faces a shortage of full-time workers if we want to maintain per capita GDP at current levels.”

I have rarely come across a more contradictory paper. On the one hand it describes a looming economic crisis because there are too many seniors, and on the other hand it wants the Government to encourage science to make us live longer still!

“Demand for critical public services is growing at a faster rate than governments can fund them. Australia’s ageing population is increasing demand for health services, which will result in Australian Government health spending per capita approximately doubling by 2054– 55.”

On exactly the same page, it goes on: “Australian researchers can use genomics to build on advances in precision medicine to tackle key causes of death and disability …” So much for the authors of the blueprint being “on the same page”!

In global terms, Australia ranks sixth for longevity. Before our politicians rush to help us age longer we need to take a leaf out of Japan’s book. The Land of the Rising Sun has the longest-lived citizens and it is sinking under their weight. It is not just a coincidence that its economy has lagged behind many other developed countries for more than a decade.

Luckily for older Japanese, the nation’s culture instils deep respect for the elderly among the young. The same is less true in Australia.

Unless our Government can plan for a society that comfortably funds ballooning numbers of senior Australians who are healthy but not able to remain in the workforce, then it is setting us all up for failure.

What is the point of “genetically modifying” medicines to help us live on average 18 months longer to the ripe old age of 84 years of age, as the blueprint authors recommend?

Living longer doesn’t automatically guarantee great health. In fact, as things stand so many older Australians with disabilities are struggling to get assistance. A society where older Australians cannot access help to remain independent and are still seen as a burden is not the sort of society I picture myself ageing gracefully in.

Do you think it is worthwhile investing in new medicines to help us live on average just another 18 months? To what age would you like to live?



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    1st Feb 2018
    No pills for me as I prefer quality of life rather than longevity. I have no desire to live a long time dependant upon others.
    1st Feb 2018
    So true BigBear, in the longevity stakes quality is more important than quantity. As long as I have quality of life I will keep going but as soon as life declines then I want out. I see my 94yo mother-in-law, for whom my wife is the carer, have no more than an existence rather than a life yet the medical profession keep prescribing medications to keep her going. My Advanced Care Directive, ie my living will, directs that if I become unable to care for myself (eg go to the toilet unaided, dress myself or feed myself) than all life-prolonging medications are to cease and let nature take it's course.
    2nd Feb 2018
    With Australia being run by Right-wingers like BigBear, we'd be better off dead anyway. There's no hope under the Lieberal Rightards.
    1st Feb 2018
    not unless more is invested in caring for them particularly those cared for by family who often cant go out to 'work' because of what is needed

    1st Feb 2018
    The ageing population will forever increase due to the growing numbers of people populating our country. What I ask is the dopey government doing about it? Nothing........... they cannot see past their colourful lives as to what is actually happening out in the wide world. The world is over populated. We need to have less immigrants coming to Australia, you ask why? Well the jobs are not there for them, they are going onto welfare I see that is the biggest drain on the public purse. There will not be enough people paying tax to cover welfare in the future. The do gooders and the dopey politicians need to have a long hard look at what is happening. Pull back on immigration now before it is too late. The house invasions are increasing people are scared. The law has to be changed to deal with these idiots who are terrorising the innocent.
    1st Feb 2018
    Sorry that I had to add other issues to the list. What I am getting at is it is getting to the point where why do we want to live to a ripe old age. Every night on the news somebody has been bashed or their houses invaded by low lifes. The judges are weak. Also I have seen how the elderly are treated in aged care facilities so I am worried if I ever have to go into one. Most of the staff cannot speak English properly to be able to communicate with sick and confused people.
    1st Feb 2018
    Jannie. Our country is safe. Watching the news gives a distorted view of life.
    The media have so frightened people that children are now raised indoors by helicopter parents.
    We have one odd ball who mows down a crowd and claims religious affiliation and its a big enough excuse to spend millions more on security.
    You don't make a gentler nation by increasing or making punishment harsher. You lower crime by embracing a level playing field and giving all Australians the opportunity to share in our nations wealth.
    I know some people are on this earth with ill intent - but most aren't.
    I used to be in a few Facebook groups and I had to sign out. It was whinge central and it made me start to dislike my own neighbourhood. I might not know everything that is going on in town anymore but is sure is a happier place to live.
    1st Feb 2018
    Well said Rosret, it is appalling how the media engender fear by cherry picking events in society. We DO live in a very safe country and should not fall victim to fearmongering.

    Re asylum seekers and immigrants... this country was built on just these same people. This from the very first ‘boat people’ with I
    The first fleet through to the asylum seekers from WW1 and WW11 and on to the ‘10 pound poms’. Humans are humans and all deserve a chance to prosper.

    Jannie - have you considered that the more people we have in any given place - the more goods and services are needed - thereby creating work.

    Yes - the world is overpopulated and this needs to be addressed.
    But this should not mean that we should disregard and mistreat other human beings.
    1st Feb 2018
    People get your heads out of the sand. The media is only reporting on some of the bashings that are occurring in Melbourne there is a lot we do not know about. The media were holding back on who were actually committing these crimes now they are saying who they are. Until it happens to you the severity of the crimes will not affect you. As for our country benefiting from immigrants from the past, I agree with you. But consider this the immigrants back then did not get hand outs they worked bloody hard and did not push their faith or religion onto us. Just go to Centrelink in the North of Melbourne and you will see how many are on welfare. In the car parks you see them getting into black Mercedes or 4 wheel drive vehicles. They are breeding very fast and raking in up to $2500 per fortnight. You people are oblivious to what is actually going on. You live in suburbs which are predominantly white. Wake up and do not just think for a minute the suburbs you live in maybe safe, but come on the last home invasions were in good suburbs eg Essendon so they are starting to infiltrate your areas. Arm yourselves for havoc in the near future. This is not scare mongering it is a fact, we need to form more vigilante groups to combat the scum that are holding us to ransom. The older we get the more vulnerable we will be so what do you all suggest??
    1st Feb 2018
    Australia can only sustain 18 million people, that has been true in the past and is still true, we have now approx 25 million people and one million more pour into this country every three years or so.

    We are already importing a lot of our food, our water cannot sustain the number of people we already have especially if we have dry weather, little rain means no top up of the water supply.

    Our country is safe for the time being but what is going to happen when food and water are scarce?

    The population cannot continue to grow at the current rate without causing massive problems in the future. Forget about longevity none of us will survive long enough to reach pension age once the natural resources start running out.
    5th Feb 2018
    The migrants of post WW2 came here to find opportunity and did. They saw potential and made something of it by working hard because they were given a chance. My parents were part of that era. Welfare was not an option and related social issues were unheard of.

    The current situation is a polar opposite. Welfare is granted so where is the incentive? I have neighbours from Syria who don't work. Their friends don't work. All they do is drive around all day in flash cars, smoke and socialise. This on the taxpayers back. Australia I'd the lucky country...for some.
    1st Feb 2018
    Living longer will mean nothing if the physical ability is not up to par..we are making people work longer some in physical jobs , so I feel that they will be in need of more help in the later years as the body has been under more daily pressure.Dependence on others for daily needs isn’t going to suit me , rather enjoy life without meds .
    1st Feb 2018
    Some think tanks really do need to have a reality check. I was full time carer for both my parents who ended up in a nursing home due to the 24 hour care they needed. It was difficult to find a place in a nursing home as they were full which is the case around most of Australia from what I read if you don't have the millions of dollars to back yourself. Making people live longer is not always an advantage to them if they are suffering from chronic diseases. What is wrong with letting nature take its own course or if seen fit, euthanasia. It most certainly is about quality of life and not quantity that most of us desire and those needs are currently not being met for everyone. The government should focus its attention on how the elderly can pay their power bills, medical bills and rental costs before any of this airy fairy crap.
    1st Feb 2018
    Totally agree with your comments Seadove. We too had similar experience to yours and I most certainly don't want my children put through the same emotional roller coaster as we all were.
    5th Feb 2018
    Definitely agree it should be about quality of life and not quantity of life.
    1st Feb 2018
    hehe Have you seen the episode of Doctor Who and all that is left is a ladies face stretched out on a canvas frame and a man constantly sprays it to keep her moist.
    Look at the beautiful babies with soft smooth perfect skin and a light in their eyes of wonder and hope. There is a season. A time to live, a time to die. Let our children live. They are our raison d'etre.

    1st Feb 2018
    I doubt that governments can have a lot of input into longevity. It's a combination of genes, lifestyle and diet that can help us to live longer. As far as I'm concerned, governments should get out of the way and ensure that those who are eligible for a pension, or part pension, will be looked after.
    1st Feb 2018
    Everything this government does is geared towards destroying the welfare state. They don't believe in it. The far right have always believed in user pay or go without. They'd bring back workhouses if they thought they could get away with it.
    1st Feb 2018
    Thanks Rae, any facts to support your theory?
    1st Feb 2018
    Nope - no facts from the looney left
    Just broad smear statements
    1st Feb 2018
    It is about quality of life and not being too reliant on other people for help as I already require some assistance now with transport The government must encourage people to take up caring roles to assist older people, and the disabled.
    1st Feb 2018
    Sounds to me that you want to outsource what was once (and still should be) a family responsibility to the Government. At the same time The Japanese are held as an example of how things should be done. Guess what? They still have it as a family responsibility as indeed do many other countries. And I might add without Government welfare support.
    1st Feb 2018
    Not for me the day I have to rely on others is the day I exit this mortal world.
    1st Feb 2018
    But you claim to have manipulated to get a full pension BigBear. That means you ARE relying on others.
    1st Feb 2018
    Oh, but then when you posted as Old Geezer, you claimed to be self-funded. Guess you just chop and change your porkies to suit your mood!
    1st Feb 2018
    The OAP doesn't help me dress myself, shower or toilet myself. No carer for me.
    ex PS
    2nd Feb 2018
    Right KB, longevity must be linked to quality of life for it to have any meaning.
    When are we going to look at providing quality of death for those who find themselves in a situation where, for them, their is no quality of life and therefore no reason to carry on.

    1st Feb 2018
    Fix the problem with groups that don’t see the other side of 50
    Aboriginals in particular
    5th Feb 2018
    Yes, Raphael, such inequality in life-expectancy is reprehensible in a country like Australia.

    Also ... I was informed that street kids will have shortened life expectancies.

    There are 55,000 street kids. First their hygiene goes, leaving them susceptible to serious illnesses. 'They have no education, therefore, the normal rights of citizens such as working and having families is denied them. Whatever future they have is grim.

    The government has swept them under the table. No judgement should be made about them ...these are yet our children.
    1st Feb 2018
    One smart Polly made the statement we have to increase our population because we have a ageing population. Beam me up Scotty.
    1st Feb 2018
    I think he meant maintain a balance between the working taxpaying population and the retired population
    1st Feb 2018
    We will just go to Melbourne for assisted dying. That should keep the protest groups happy until they reach old age. There will be a lot of complaining though.
    1st Feb 2018
    What they should be looking at is approving stem cell treatment to cure all the illnesses that invade our bodies. It has been proven in the US to save lives & give us all a chance at a healthy retirement. No drugs needed. That way maybe more of the elderly will be able to work longer should they choose. It will also free up the health burden.
    ex PS
    2nd Feb 2018
    It may also help the economy of underdeveloped countries, just think of the boost to the economy if they could harvest babies in order to stockpile stem cells.
    There is a reason why these things tend to move slowly.
    1st Feb 2018
    Genomics is not "genetically modifying" medicines, but using knowledge of a patient's genome to design an effective treatment.
    The goal is to create a healthy aged community who would not be a burden.
    1st Feb 2018
    Um, sorry to blow that report out of the water, but what hasn't been considered is the large pool of unemployed. The 6% claimed as adding to the retirement number will be offset by unemployment/underemployment and an increased participation rate. Unemployment is 5.8% and underemployment 5.6% which greatly outweighs the 6% so the net effect will be zero. This ignores the greater participation rate and technology increases which add to productivity which add to GDP. So bring on the genomes as we need more folks to retire to suck up the under/unemployed.

    One thing I like about social doomsayers is they are so easy to knock off their perch. I've been watching these sorts of predictions for three decades and none of them have ever eventuated. Nothing to see here - pass the popcorn!
    1st Feb 2018
    All smoke and mirrors - I too prefer quality of life to quantity. Let's get decent and liberal euthanasia laws in place, and become a destination for those who wish to die without pain and at a time of their choosing.
    1st Feb 2018
    Anything would be better than jumping in front of trains and buses etc. One should be allowed to leave at a time of their choosing not be kept alive just because they can be. I've got my way out of this mortal world sorted but unfortunately I am not allowed by law to tell anyone how it will be done.
    5th Feb 2018
    People should take responsibility for their own lives and deaths. If they want to euthenaise themselves, they shouldn't get others involved.

    As for legal euthenasia, the opportunities for abuse are too numerous to mention. Ask any specialist ... who have had dealings with family members ...

    Also ... we have the example of Stephen Hawking, now 77 years of age. Quality of life means different things to different people.

    Currently, doctors will administer sufficient pain relief even if it hastens death.

    No doctor will go to heroic lengths to prolong life, if the patient doesn't want it.

    There are personal directives, such as NFR ... Not For Resusitation, ... and other such directives ...

    When entering hospital it is normal practice to be given a form, an Advanced Care Directive to complete.

    In Western countries the birth-rate is dropping, and has been for some time.

    2nd Feb 2018
    There is nothing wrong with the think tank promoting better quality of life, while also warning about the need to fund more health care, etc. Can't see why all the negativity here about these ideas! In fact, I think they should have gone further and suggested the funding as well in a bold manner e.g.
    a. Ensure all Companies and the rich pay a minimum tax, and not get away with paying nil or negligible tax.
    b. Provide and fund Universal Pension for all (subject to minimum pre-pension Residence requirements of say 15 or 20 years) without the stress, inequities and costs (Centrelink) of Asset tests (actual income should be taxed). Funding can be increased by re-instatement of the 7.5% Income Tax still being deducted into a separate Fund not to be touched by Pollies ever again!
    c. Limit immigration to half of current levels, and stop migration of people who are not Christians or don't know English - both categories are only trouble & cost.

    No problem in the future if a Political Party could adopt just these 3 recommendations! Anybody there???
    2nd Feb 2018
    Give me strength! All power to old farts might seem to be the thrust of this fallacious 'Report'. What a misguided load of drivel - this by some 'body' presumably professing to represent the best interests of all parties concerned and "calling on the govt to support" (the findings). Who the hell funds these 'pie in the sky' think tank studies ?
    Isn't it enough that our generation is to blame for the housing inequities currently besetting the younger 'what about me' wannabe's ?
    All very well the promise of an extended and healthy life for those financially established to weather the vicissitudes of the final (average) two score years. The rising and aspiring youth meanwhile would see these old 'lifers' further delaying their 'entitlement', be it housing, inheritance or healthcare. Already there exists an underlying resentment to costs associated with our aging population numbers and for all those of either camp that claim 'entitlement' for various selfish reasons the only common ground found as a result will ever and always be the graveyard - of that you can be certain.
    "GDP" as a measure of anything is fast becoming obsolete in that technological advance and innovation is currently outpacing the ability to maintain an accepted standard.
    Quantum science defies observation. Few of us have the capacity to question the why's and wherefores's of what life doles out to us and genome enhancement will do little other than prolong the inevitable and thereby exacerbate an already trying time.
    2nd Feb 2018
    Well, you’s can please yourselves, some blow themselves up to get off this planet to get to heaven(giggle), some try paying their way into heaven while their brain can reason that it may work(giggle), then suffer the frailty of old age. No quality of life with either of above.
    This is a serious issue which only the Bible can explain, want to know why so much suffering and when it will end on our beautiful plant for all good hearted people?
    Please look at
    2nd Feb 2018
    The World is already vastly overpopulated why do we need to keep extending peoples lives to a point beyond which we all become a useless burden.
    It is my observation that the upcoming population will NOT live longer than their parents. (My father just passed away at the age of 100). We continue to - Overpopulate - pollute the air we breath - contaminate the food and drink we eat - create synthetic foodstuffs - and the real biggy is -- create excessive stress on ourselves and others. We invent new and supposedly, better drugs etc but the question I ask is 'who is going to pay the price for these'. I personally have no desire whatever to live to a point where I become a burden on those I love and love me and certainly not on society.

    2nd Feb 2018
    The way the world is going, to hell in a handbasket, dropping off one's perch earlier rather than later is looking more and more desirable.
    2nd Feb 2018
    the government doesn't have to do any thing about it , that's why carers who care full time for family get 3.50 an hour to care 24/7
    3rd Feb 2018
    Your lucky as parents who stay at home and care for their kids get nothing.
    5th Feb 2018
    Well, at least most who post here agree quality of life here in Australia is very important. I’m ageing and so not happy with what the secular world offers. Who would like to live here in perfect health and vitality of their youth. It’s all possible, but not in this system. Would you like to know more, please take a look at our web site and learn how this way of life is possible,
    Kind regards
    8th Feb 2018
    There is already a shortage of aged care carers and nurses, especially in the High Care sector. When a resident needs to be turned or moved for any reason 2 staff are needed to do that, not one. Govt regulation state ratio of 1 carer to X number of residents. That does not take into account the fact that in many cases 2 staff are needed to attend to the needs of a resident. Having to wait at least 30 minutes to be lifted off a bedpan after ringing your bell is not acceptable. They simply do not have enough staff now. It is very hard tiring work and staff simply "burn out" after they have been doing it for a long time. The situation is already bad and in some places morale is low.
    8th Feb 2018
    So true, want to know where the world is going as regards what the Bible says, please look through our website, you may like what is there as is so positive for our future.... Tony
    8th Feb 2018
    Hi Blossom, my mother in law is about to die in a nursing home. I have seen contractors come, seems to cheapen life, more money for someone. What is better, bad morale or this system ending.
    Then good health and vitality for all , only if you do what’s right, not like today where money or position is the key!!!!!!
    Have a look and be informed
    Kind regards

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