“We have addressed the challenges of ageing” was the bold statement made by Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison speaking at a Council on the Ageing (COTA) event last week.
Mr Morrison was talking about how the Government is dealing with the challenges of an ageing population on spending, support and the overall economic impact on Australia.
He claims that dealing with an ageing population has been a “key part” of the Government’s plan, and that a targeted migration program, incentives to work longer and the removal of tax barriers will help to soften the economic blow created by an older population.
Mr Morrison said that the nation becoming older shouldn’t be seen as a curse and claimed that with careful planning, ageing would not become an “economic drag”.
“An ageing population means Australians are living longer and healthier lives. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty good thing. When we talk about ageing sometimes, you would think that when you hear from public policy makers or bureaucrats or economic commentators that it is some sort of economic curse that people are living longer and healthier,” he said.
“As part of this year’s plan for a stronger economy we have addressed the challenges of ageing on our economy more broadly.
“It involves ensuring that choice and opportunity, and the ability for all Australians to build their aspirations for a longer and healthier life – engaged, informed and empowered – all of these are realised.”
The Treasurer said Australia’s targeted migration program has boosted the nation’s work participation rate and “slowed the impact of ageing on our economy, allowing the economy and society time to adjust and provision for a [time] when fewer people are working and delivering income tax revenue, but increasingly drawing on government services”.
“We have a strong economy and the plans we are putting in place for an even stronger economy are being realised,” said Mr Morrison.
“That is the guarantee that underwrites; whether it is on aged care, on welfare, on pensions, on disability services, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme – all of these things. Unless you have a stronger economy, any commitment in that area, any empathy in that area, any passion that might be proclaimed in that area cannot be relied upon unless you have such a plan to ensure the economy continues to grow and underwrite all of these things that Australians rely on.”
He also claims that the budget will provide funds to help older Australians stay in or get back into the workplace.
“While there are some age-based limitations within worker’s compensation schemes, this is not universal. Employers should also know that we are reviewing these limitations because employment frameworks need to facilitate employment, not impede it,” said Mr Morrison.
He pointed out that the increase in the Pension Work Bonus and the expansion of the Pension Loans Scheme would allow older Australians to work longer without suffering significant tax impacts.
Mr Morrison also said that “aspiration has no age limit. That’s what we believe”.
“Aspiration doesn’t grind to a halt when you hit 65. It is not the exclusive domain of younger generations, eyes wide open, world at their feet,” he said.
“Choice and opportunity should also not retire. We will continue to enliven and encourage people to realise their aspirations at whatever age they may be.”
Read more the full transcript of Scott Morrison’s speech
Do you think the Government has addressed the challenges of ageing? If not, how do you think it could do better? Is this a big call?