In light of the Commission of Audit’s recommendation to raise the pension age to 70, Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan, has again called on the federal Government to give the highest priority to addressing the needs of older people who are capable and wish to keep working up to and past the current pension age.
“We have a recommended date in the future by which the age pension qualification age should be lifted to 70,” Commissioner Ryan said. “This proposal provides a window of time during which we should take action to change employer attitudes, social infrastructure and training programs so that older people are seen as desirable employees and everyone can look forward to the opportunity to continue working as long as they need to.”
“We need to address age discrimination,” she said.
“The simple fact is that, regardless of timing, lifting the pension age to 70 will only shift people to unemployment benefits if we do not also ensure they have the opportunity to continue working when they want or need to.”
Commissioner Ryan acknowledged that there is a looming budget problem related to our increased longevity, but said this problem is partially caused by unnecessary exclusion of older people from the workforce. It is this exclusion that should be addressed immediately.
“The superannuation access age turns on the same argument as the age pension qualification age.” Commissioner Ryan said. “Until people of all ages have equal opportunity to keep working as long as they need to, they will expect to be able to access their superannuation, should they find they cannot get work and are too young to receive the age pension.”
The immediate crisis we face is one of capable older people being forced out of the workforce when they are still able to make high level effective contributions to business.
“In an era when we are continually warned about the diminishing available workforce, it is irrational that older people continue to be overlooked and ignored.”
Commissioner Ryan said the Commission of Audit had in effect recommended a window of opportunity during which Australia should develop and implement programs and policies aimed at removing the ageist attitudes and practices that prevent older people remaining attached to the workforce.
Media contact: Brinsley Marlay 02 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529