Calls for flexibility on pension age

Latrobe Valley senior citizens are divided on where they stand regarding the Federal Government’s pension age proposal, suggesting the measure should be flexible enough to allow manual workers to retire earlier than 70.

In November last year, the Abbott Government proposed raising the age at which retirees can apply for pension to 70 by 2035.

The Labor Government earlier legislated increasing the pension age from 65 to 67 starting 2033 in a move to ease the impact of an ageing population.

Trafalgar Senior Citizens Club secretary Eva Bateson said the proposal should consider some people were not able to continue work by age 70 because for health reasons.

“Some people can do it and some people can’t. Some people feel healthy at 70. It should be flexible,” Ms Bateson, 82, told The Express.

Art teacher John Brown said the proposed increase was “ridiculous” and discriminated upon poorer old aged Australians.

“When people get above 65 there’s not much physical work that you can do. Some have memory problems,” 89 year-old Mr Brown, who is still actively teaching at the University of the Third Age, said.

“The elderly have been paying taxes and they deserve some rest.”

Mr Brown, however, was not surprised about the proposed increase, citing he had lived long enough to see politicians targeting senior citizens in policy making.

“The plot does not change, only the actors,” he said.

Mr Brown questioned why the government chose to fork up $12.4 billion to buy fighter planes when the funds could be used to improve health services not only for seniors, but also for other disadvantaged sectors.

“They can afford $12 billion on jetfighters which will never fire a single shot. Who is our enemy? There’s got to be a fair go, not only for seniors but for people who are sick,” he said, whose wife and two children succumbed to cancer.

The Productivity Commission projected there would be about 38 million Australians by 2060.

Life expectancy is also projected to improve with those born in 2012 expected to live for an estimated 94.4 years for females compared to 91.6 years for males.