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Howard Urges Delayed Retirement

By Patricia Karvelas, the Australian


April 4, 2007

Australians should rethink their retirement plans and, for the good of the nation, keep working into their mid to late 60s, John Howard declared yesterday.

An extra 10 years at the coal face would help ensure the country's future prosperity.

"That would make an enormous difference," said the Prime Minister, who turns 68 this year.

"The big problem Australia's had is far too many people retire at 55. Until quite recently, that cohort of 55-64 in Australia was less in work (than) in other relevant countries."

Mr Howard said his comments were no reflection of any plans he may have for his own retirement.

Union officials said Mr Howard should provide older people with incentives and the flexibility to remain in the workforce.

ACTU president Sharon Burrow said strategies to delay retirement had previously been rejected by the Government.

"Like the right to request part-time work, the right to flexible hours of work should not be imposed by an employer.

"The healthy option is for people to have choices where they can retire on dignified retirement incomes or they can, in fact, choose to work for periods of time in and out of the workforce or on a part-time basis."

Labor workplace participation spokeswoman Penny Wong said many older people wanted to keep working but employers were reluctant to give them jobs.

"Lots of mature Australians tell me they feel they get put out to pasture in their 50s, and the Howard Government has done nothing to tackle this problem," Senator Wong said.

"We do need to encourage more people to work and to work longer, but the Howard Government doesn't really understand the problem."

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