Brett Wortman

More than two thirds against pension age rise

MORE than two-thirds of Australians oppose raising the pension age to 70, according to a survey unlikely to be welcomed by Treasurer Joe Hockey this week.

Mr Hockey, deep in preparations for his first budget, has outlined his plans to extend the pension age to 70, up from previous plans to raise the age to 67.

But poll released by Essential Research this week showed some 71%v of respondents opposed the idea, with only 10% happy to wait until their 70th birthday for the aged pension.

It sparked fresh calls from the Council of the Ageing Australia for the Abbott Government to renew its election pledge not to make any changes to the pension.

COTA chief executive Ian Yates said Mr Hockey 's arguments for raising the pension age or cutting aged care services were not supported by the government's data.

"According to tables the Treasurer released yesterday from the Commission of Audit, GDP is rising at a rate of 5.1% and government outlays only at the slightly higher 5.3% - pointing to the need for tightening but not for major cuts to seniors' living standards," Mr Yates said.

"Similarly, pensions are projected to rise at a rate of 6.2% - a modest and sustainable figure given the sizeable rise in the numbers of older Australians in future years, about which we have known for a long time - indeed the 2009 Pension Review, which had bi-partisan support, confirmed the age pension is sustainable over coming decades."

Mr Yates hit out at Mr Hockey's speech on Wednesday night, which he said focussed on government spending, rather than revenue.

"Critically, the figures the Treasurer released leave out the generous tax concessions paid on compulsory superannuation - which benefit the top income earners and are not paid to low income earners at all," he said.

"An Australian Institute analysis released this week shows that superannuation concessions are higher than the costs of the pension, so the question must be asked - why is the Treasurer intent on targeting those who can least afford it, Australia's pensioners?"

The government has not yet confirmed it will cut the aged pension, although the Commission of Audit likely recommended such changes to be made, Mr Hockey intimated on Wednesday night.



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