April 14, 2014

SUBJECT/S: Age Pension 

MARIUS BENSON: Jenny Macklin, Joe Hockey’s broad message there is that cuts are needed and everyone needs to contribute, do you accept that as a broad principle? 

MACKLIN: What I don’t accept Marius, is that Tony Abbott is going to break a very clear promise that he made to 2.3 million pensioners, not just once before the election, but many times, he said there would be no cuts to pensions and he also said there would be no change to pensions. 

He said that the day before the election, on interviews that he did, and of course we intend to hold him to that promise. 

BENSON: Ok, so you’re saying - broken promise. Can I go to the merits of the argument though, because the maths seems unforgiving. 

If we just take momentarily a long historical perspective, since the middle of the 19th century in the industrialised world, life expectancy has increased every decade by two and half years. A third of the children being born now will reach the age of 100. 

This is all great news but it has implications for planning a budget. Do you accept that? 

MACKLIN: Of course it was Labor that made the very difficult decision to increase the Age Pension age, the first time it had been increased in our 100 year history of having an Age Pension. 

And the Age Pension will not get to 67 until 2023, but Tony Abbott had the opportunity to tell Australians, before the election, whether or not he would change the pension, or whether he would increase the pension age. 

He chose to say before the election there will be no changes to the pension. He must keep his promise to Australian pensioners not break it in the way that Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are preparing to do. 

BENSON: You’ve made the point about the broken promise, but what about the… MACKLIN: It’s very serious, it’s very serious to a lot of very vulnerable people 

BENSON: But what about the needs of pensions in the future decades, do you see 67 as an absolute ceiling or is 70 appropriate, if it’s introduced over a subsequent decade just as you did over a decade? MACKLIN: We’re not even anywhere near the introduction of that change yet, so let’s get through that introduction, of course there will be further discussions and further planning as the years go on. 

But this morning you’ve seen comment on the Council of the Ageing and I think there comments are very pertinent. 

There are many, many older Australians who would like to work a little bit more as they get older, but of course find it very difficult because of the serious age discrimination in the workplace. 

So while we’re increasing the age discrimination age to 67 it would be a very good idea for this Government to focus on making sure that we help those older Australians who can do some work to do so, to deal with age discrimination in the workplace. 

If you want to talk about what cuts need to be made in this budget and of course Labor always made sure that we targeted our support to different Australians. 

The place that this Government should be going is getting rid of their gold-plated paid parental leave scheme. Labor introduced a very affordable paid parental leave scheme. But instead of attacking that extraordinary largesse that Tony Abbott wants to deliver to very wealthy mothers, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey seem to want to attack pensioners. 

BENSON: Jenny Macklin, thank you very much. 

MACKLIN: Thank you. 


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