Increasing pension age 'would leave many elderly in poverty'
THE Far North Coast economy would be among the hardest hit by plans to lift the pension age to 70, warns the Northern Rivers Social Development Council.
Development council chief executive Tony Davies said an above-average number of pensioners in the region meant raising the age of eligibility would leave many struggling and would reduce their spending power in the economy.
There are about 20,000 pensioners in the Federal seat of Richmond - one of the highest per capita concentrations of pensioners in the nation.
Treasurer Joe Hockey is expected to announce in Tuesday's budget Australians born after 1965 will have to work until they are 70 before they are eligible for the aged pension.
He says the growing cost of the aged pension is unsustainable.
However, Mr Davies said the change would leave many Northern Rivers residents living in poverty.
"If you are lifting the pension age, one effect of that is that people in their late sixties - people who would really struggle to find work in the current job market - will have to survive on $36 per day," he told ABC Radio.
He said there were other areas to find savings.
"Currently it costs the Government $40 billion a year to pay aged pensions," he said.
"At the same time, the Government gives $40 billion dollars a year - the same amount - in tax concessions to people with superannuation.
"Roughly a third of that, $13 billion, of those tax concessions go to people in the top 10 percent of income earners."
Richmond Labor MP Justine Elliot said her constituents were fearful about changes to the pension.
There was also a high-level of concern caused by speculation about the introduction of a "doctor tax" and an increase in the fuel excise, Ms Elliot said.
Between 2006-2011 people aged between 50-64 and 65-plus experienced the greatest population growth on the Tweed, increasing by 2,689 and 2,239 respectively, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.