Retirement age may increase

PACE yourself. Depending on your age you might still be clocking on at work right up until you are 70.

Treasurer Joe Hockey noted in a speech this week spending on the age pension is projected to increase by about 70 per cent in today’s dollars over the next decade.

He pointed out the number of Australians aged 65 to 84 will double between 2010 and 2050, while the number of people aged over 85 will quadruple.

He also said access to the pension system needed to be ‘’prioritised for the most vulnerable”.

He stopped short of nominating a rise in pension age to 70, but it is understood a rise to 70 is a “live option’’, as is a move to change the indexation rate of the pension.

The notion has been met with mixed emotions across the workforce.

Builder Steve Moxon wouldn’t mind working to 70, if his body and mind were still up to it.

He’s got an engineer’s mind and a talent for using his brain over brawn, something that probably extended his career in what is a physical industry.

With only a few years until he reaches the current retirement age of 65, the 62-year-old from Budgong most likely won’t have to work to 70 before the pension kicks in.

“I understand why the government would be proposing raising the retirement age,” he said.

“But if they said to a 62 year old now you’ve got to go to 70, it’s moving the goal posts a bit late.

“If you move them early enough it’s doable, a 30 year old could plan for it or change to a less physically demanding industry.

“But if they said it to me now I’d have to ask them how.”

“Building is a physical job and I’ve got to manage my body as it is.

“My back and my knees are stuffed but I can manage that because I work for myself,” he said.

Mr Moxon said he had to look realistically at the jobs he takes on and the time frames he allots them when quoting for clients.

“I’m 62 but I have to perform financially and physically. If it takes me longer to do the job and costs more then my clients aren’t happy,” he said.

“That’s a fair bit of pressure and as you get older you don’t take that pressure as well as you do when you are young.”

He said if he was employing a  65 year old, and was then told he had to give him another five years of work he would have to consider what he was going to get out of that employee.

“I’m in a lucky position because I work with my sons a lot now. And because I’m trying to save my body they can look after me a bit, they can carry the load,” he said.

“I love doing physical work and I would love to be able to keep working to 70, if I physically could.

“I expect the retirement age will have to be raised, but I don’t know what the age is they would bring it in.

“I learned a long time ago you can’t make someone do something they are not capable of doing, and trying to make them was dangerous for them and others. I hope we don’t end up forcing people to be dangerous in the workplace,” Mr Moxon said.

Member for Gilmore Ann Sudmalis encouraged people to remember raising the retirement age was only speculation.

Labor introduced changes in 2009 that will see the pension age rise from 65 to 67 between 2017 and 2023.

If the Abbott government decides to further raise the pension age, it would be staggered over half a decade or more.

“If you’re going to live until 100 instead of having people sit around for 35 years, we’re saying let’s move that up a bit and let people feel valuable and let the next generation afford to give them a retirement,” Mrs Sudmalis said.

“If you have the pensioner age too early that burden falls on the next generation.

“A lot of people in heavy trades are self-employed. I’d love to know how many have worked out a process of their own retirement schedule. They’ve often done that.”

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