Retirement age not going up: Treasurer

The pension age in Australia will not be raised any time soon, said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. The government has been reviewing retirement income for the first time in three decades as it works to reconfigure next year’s budget.

Asked whether the government was thinking about pension reform in this context, Frydenberg said it wasn’t.

“No, it’s not, what we’re focusing on is, again, developing an evidence-based approach to future policy decision.” he said Saturday, according to The Age. “This will be the first holistic review of our retirement income system since compulsory super[annuation] came in in the early 90s.”

He added that the government “continued to support” the current framework for mandatory superannuation, which is set to gradually increase from 9.5 percent to 12 percent over the next five years. Superannuation is the amount of a person’s income that is automatically placed into a fund reserved for life after retirement.

Frydenberg also ruled out making the family home subject to the asset test used to determine pensions, saying, “Our position hasn’t changed and that will never be part of our policy.”

With all that said, Frydenberg was slammed for publishing details of the review the day before the AFL grand final, when it was sure to attract far less attention than it otherwise might.

“If the government was serious about this retirement incomes review they wouldn’t have dropped it out on the eve of grand final weekend hoping nobody would notice,” said Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers, suggesting that Frydenberg has something up his sleeve.

As to the increase in superannuation, a group of Coalition MPs have spoken against it, contending that workers would rather have more money to spend right now. They are planning to campaign against the increase as the retirement income review proceeds.

Pension reform is dangerous political territory. Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin saw his extraordinary popularity take a massive hit after announcing plans to increase the retirement age from 60 to 65 for men, and from 55 to 63 for women. The announcement, and the subsequent passing of the reform bill, engendered widespread protests.