Prime Minister Scott Morrison has scrapped the long-held government plan to raise the pension age to 70.
Increasing pressure to raise the pension age has been mounting in recent years as concerns grow about the costs associated with the nation’s ageing population.
The current pension age of 65 and a half years is set to become 67 by 2023 under a previous Labor policy, which was controversially taken further in 2014 when then-Treasurer Joe Hockey announced the Coalition government would make it 70 years by 2035.
While the proposal never managed to pass the Senate, it has been consistently defended by the Government until today, including by Morrison himself who oversaw three federal budgets as treasurer in the Turnbull government.
However, today the prime minister appeared to backflip on the policy while fielding questions on Nine’s Today program.
“It is one of the things I will be changing pretty quickly,” Morrison said.
“Next week Cabinet will be ratifying a decision to reverse taking the pension, the retirement age to 70. It will remain at 67, which is what Labor increased it to,” he explained.
The Opposition criticised Morrison, slamming the move as one of desperation following the removal of Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister.
“For years he has wanted Australians to work to the age of 70. As recently as July this year he said that was his commitment,” Opposition leader Bill Shorten told reporters in Townsville today. “Now he wants to drop it because he’s worried about losing his day job.”
The Council on The Ageing Australia, a national seniors advocacy group, welcomed the decision, saying that even older Australians who wished to work were unable to find employment.
“There is no point in raising the pension age further when people who want to work longer are too often locked out of even being considered for jobs because of persistent ageism and age discrimination,” chief executive Ian Yates said.
“Lifting workforce participation will contribute much more money to the Federal Budget than raising the pension age further could ever save and it will result in better retirement incomes for many retirees, again saving the Budget.”
Published 5 September 16:43