In my usual media spot on Mondays with the Liberal’s Andrew Laming and Breaking Politics host, Chris Hammer, topics up for debate were the spectre of raising the pension age to 70 and flagged federal budget cuts to the CSIRO. Here’s the full transcript:
BREAKING POLITICS – FAIRFAX MEDIA
MONDAY, 14 APRIL 2014
SUBJECT/S: Joe Hockey’s budget and cuts; Age Pension, CSIRO, the ABC and SBS; Superannuation and inequality; Unfair PPL Scheme, Trade and Foreign investment
CHRIS HAMMER: Well the budget is now less than a month away and Treasurer, Joe Hockey, is talking tough. His given the clearest signal yet that he intends to raise the pension age to 70, but perhaps not in this term of government. Joining me to discuss that and other matters, budgetary and otherwise, I’m joined by Andrew Leigh, the Federal Labor member for Fraser here in the ACT, and Andrew Laming, the Liberal member for Bowman in Queensland. Good morning. Andrew Laming, let me start with you. Should the pension age be raised to 70?
ANDREW LAMING: Well, obviously the pension age is already changing from 65 to 67 over the next decade and Andrew Leigh has long made that very important point that with longevity in Australia that period between retirement and expected length of life only continues to increase. So this is a debate that brave politicians will continue to have. I think that the pace at which it’s increasing, a couple of years per decade, is thoroughly reasonable and of course we’ve also got the life expectancy figures to back those calculations.
HAMMER: Whatever the merits of the policy though, this isn’t going to be a quick fix for the budget, is it, because we’re looking at so many years into the future?
LAMING: That’s correct. So, already these increases through to 2023 are continuing at a trajectory on from that date, obviously only helps the budget in the 2020s. It doesn’t help the budget right now.
HAMMER: Andrew Leigh, raising the pension to 70, is it a good idea, an inevitable idea?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Well it was an idea ruled out Chris the day before the election by the Prime Minister who said ‘no changes to pensions’.
HAMMER: But I think he was referring to this term of government. If he goes to the next election saying ‘this is what we intend to do’, well that would be fine, wouldn’t it?
LEIGH: He certainly didn’t make that clear in his unequivocal statement the day before the election Chris. But the impact of this is that a scheme which was set up to avoid poverty among the elderly is now looking at being changed in a way that would increase poverty among the elderly. Andrew is right when he says that average life expectancy is rising but the other fact to bear in mind is that workers in manual jobs like check-out operators and cleaners find it tough to work till 70 and workers in those occupations will die on average six years younger than the most affluent Australians. So on life expectancy, there’s a big gap between most and least affluent and I’m really scared about what this broken promise will do to the most vulnerable Australians.