What a year it’s been for retirees and those planning to do so.
In general, Australian retirees, whether on a full or part Age Pension, or self-funded, are still suffering the affects of the GFC. Bank interest rates remain stubbornly low and whilst this is fuelling a boom in property prices, it’s not doing much for those on fixed retirement incomes. The dismissal of the Labor Government means its promised increases to the superannuation guarantee contribution will not proceed, so future retirees will have lower (enforced) savings and the decision by the incoming Abbott Government that we did not need a Minister for Ageing tells us a lot about what is not a priority for the Coalition.
Pre-election we were told that the budget was in crisis, post-election it seems Mr Hockey still feels the same way. Apart from the fact that this continual talking down of the economy will result in a self-fulfilling prophecy, it also means that those on an Age Pension won’t receive an increase any time soon.
Overall, there is a massive ‘risk-shift’ occurring with retirement income. Recent reports from the Productivity Commission and the Grattan Institute have both recommended raising the retirement age even high to 70 years (it is moving to 67 by 2023) and forcing retirees to access the wealth in the family home, to use it as retirement income or for aged care costs. So entitlements we believed to be enshrined in the Australian ‘fair go’ society are now under siege from a successive Federal Government which have systematically failed to plan for an ageing society. Apparently it is the boomers fault if they hit retirement unprepared. I don’t mind shouldering my share of the burden, but shouldn’t our governments have woken up to this silver tsunami before now?