Lower income earner view should be on Retirement Income Review panel

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The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) is calling for an expansion of the Review of the Retirement Income System panel to include someone with expertise about the needs of people on lower incomes.

“While ACOSS welcomes the review, the panel does not include expertise from community organisations representing and working with people on lower incomes. This is a serious gap that goes to the credibility of the process,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“We’re urging the Treasurer to engage with ACOSS and its members on how the panel could be expanded to incorporate these perspectives.”

Goldie said it is vital that the Review has perspectives beyond those of the financial sector.

“Surely, the most important outcomes of this Review should be to ensure the people who are most vulnerable in later life are able to live with dignity, cover the costs of living, and receive the care and supports they need?”

ACOSS is also concerned that reform options are already being ruled out.

“It will not be possible for future governments to properly fund aged care and health services if the current tax treatment of superannuation and of dividends received by retired people are not reconsidered,” Goldie said.

So far, the Government has ruled out increasing the Age Pension age to 70, including the family home in the assets test, or changing the legislated timetable for increases to the Super Guarantee rate. Additionally, according to reports, panel member Professor Ralston say franking credits wont be considered as part of the review, as it’s a broader tax issue. Ralston, as part of the Alliance for a Fairer Retirement System, campaigned against Labor’s franking credit policy.

“In an area of policy rife with powerful vested interests that has been incrementally reformed over the years – giving rise to claims of ‘reform fatigue’ – it is vital that the government takes this opportunity to get it right,” said Goldie.

“It is much more likely the review will succeed if the panel draws from a wider range of perspectives, has the time to consult fully, and reform options and topics for consideration are not ruled out prematurely.”

The ACTU has been critical that the review panel includes “no workers’ representatives”, saying this means the “Morrison Government isn’t interested in the input of the people whose retirement incomes the inquiry will discuss”.

“The appointment of Dr Deborah Ralston who campaigned for the Government at the last election is a signal that the Government may backflip on its promise of a superannuation guarantee increase to 12 per cent from 1 July 2021.”

“The review should be an opportunity for the Government to affirm its commitment to 12 per cent contributions, but the members of this panel shows that it will be just another ideological attack on workers’ retirement security.”

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