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Ageing Population 'May Bankrupt Budget'

Sydney Morning Herald

August 26, 2008




Australia's ageing population is a more serious problem than climate change and could bankrupt the federal budget by 2030, seniors say.

National Seniors Australia has called for an immediate $30 a week rise in the single aged pension ahead of a complete revamp of the pension system and an increase in compulsory superannuation contributions.

"The ageing crisis in Australia is a far greater crisis than climate change," National Seniors Australia chairman Everald Compton said in Adelaide.
"If action isn't taken now to plan for the financial crisis that's going to occur, by the year 2030 the ageing population of Australia will bankrupt the federal budget.

"By that time there will be more voters in Australia over the age of 50 than under the age of 50 and that situation will worsen through the rest of the century.

"We believe that can be turned into an advantage if governments plan for it now.

"If they create the right conditions for pensioners in areas such as superannuation, health and housing."

Mr Compton said seniors wanted the government to increase compulsory superannuation contributions from nine to 15 per cent and make it easier for seniors to re-enter the workforce.

They also wanted the government to revamp the pension system, setting payments at a percentage of average wages and would lobby federal politicians for those changes in Canberra on Wednesday as part of the government's ongoing review of pension payments.

But national seniors chief executive Michael O'Neill said older Australians surviving on the single pension of $273 a week were doing it especially tough and needed immediate assistance.

"As food, fuel and rents soar pensioners, particularly full single age pensioners, can barely keep their heads above water," Mr O'Neill said.

"After a lifetime of contributing to the growth of this nation, what sort of retirement is that for our most vulnerable Australians?"

Mr O'Neill said an increase to take the single pension to two-thirds of the pension for couples would equate to a rise of about $30 a week.

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