Labor’s plan to turn government’s ‘time bomb’ into an economic opportunity


Previous reports have forecast 22 per cent of the population will be aged over 65 by 2057, up from 15 per cent in 2017 and just 5 per cent in 1927.

“Old age should be seen as the time when the accumulation of wisdom paid off,” Mr Albanese says in a draft of the speech.

“We should revere our elders.”

He will slam the government for portraying the ageing of the population as an “economic time bomb” and instead describe the trend as a benefit to families and an opportunity for employers.

The speech, to be delivered to the Queensland Media Club in Brisbane on Wednesday, restates Labor’s opposition to an increase in the pension age to 67, an idea proposed by the Coalition in 2014 and rejected in 2018.

“Older workers in blue collar industries should not be expected to put in even more years of physical slog,” he says in the draft.

“It is also concerning that a growing number of mature-age workers can’t get the amount of work they seek.

“Today, 72,500 Australians aged between 55 and 64 are unemployed just when they should be building their nest egg.

“For too many Australians over the age of 45, if they become unemployed they will struggle to get another job and instead spiral down towards a pretty lean retirement.

“The answer for some of these Australians is to upgrade their skills, which underscores the urgency of rebuilding our TAFEs in particular and our VET system in general.

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“But having the right skills has not always proven to be enough. Age discrimination persists.”

Mr Albanese will warn that governments “cannot legislate cultural change” and that Labor will expect business to do more to create opportunities for older workers.

“Employers must play their part,” he will say.

Consulting firm Deloitte has estimated that an additional 3 percentage points in the participation rate among workers aged 55 and over would result in a $33 billion boost to gross domestic product.

This would be equivalent to adding 1.6 per cent to national income.

In a shot at Liberals who are campaigning against compulsory superannuation, Mr Albanese will defend Labor policy to increase the super guarantee levy from 9.5 to 12 per cent over the next five years.

“With economic growth and productivity you can have both higher super and higher wages,” he will say, taking aim in particular at the Australian Council of Social Services for supporting the curbs on super.

“Having established the superannuation system we will not stand by and see it chipped away.

“We want to make it better.

“Women retire with just half the average super of men. Many have none at all. This imbalance can and should be addressed.”

On the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Labor leader will promise action to improve the workforce in the sector and act on the inquiry.

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