Super and Age Pension ‘political footballs’

The Government and opposition need to come together and support the findings from the Retirement Income Review – that the Age Pension is sustainable – to give confidence to the system, according to a panel.

Speaking at the Post Retirement Australia conference, asked whether superannuation and the Age Pension were political footballs, David Knox, Mercer senior actuary, agreed and noted the Retirement Income Review backed the sustainability of the Age Pension.

“I would love to see a bipartisan support for the Age Pension I would love to see both major parties say the Age Pension is staying and we are not going to reduce it, we can afford it,” Knox said.

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“That’s what the review found – let the Government and the opposition come out and say the Age Pension is there forever, we’re not going to touch it – that would be a helpful step.

“In terms of superannuation, the reforms keep coming and it is a political football… I don’t have a simple answer as to how we remove that political discussion.

“Within the industry we have some responsibility there to say let’s understand what we’re trying to do and work together, notwithstanding our political differences.”

Dr Deborah Ralston, author of the Retirement Income Report, said she had seen greater consensus coming around some of the issues in the report.

“That’s really that’s what the report is meant to do – not play it out but to make sure that we’re talking about the right things and we have some kind of a fact base to go on,” Ralston said.

“There were issues I would’ve loved to see a lot more about… involuntary retirement is one that I’ve had worked on before and is incredibly important. Nearly 40% of Australians retiring before the aged pension age and that’s a really big issue.

“We did know the Retirement Income Covenant would go on after us and I had a particular interest in that, having done quite a bit of work on it as well. But we weren’t there to nail that down, we were there to put the facts out and to ensure there would be a lot of discussion.”

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