Retirement age rise affects all

AN Illawarra-based charity that provides low-cost food and vocational training services to disadvantaged people in the Illawarra believes an increase in the pension age could have dire consequences for the entire population.

By July 1, 2023, Australians will have to be 67 years old to access the age pension and it is believed the federal government is considering increasing the retirement age to 70 in the upcoming federal budget.

Any increase to the retirement age would likely be staggered over at least half a decade.

While lifting the retirement age has been touted by Treasurer Joe Hockey as a means to help restore the budget to surplus, others believe it will have a detrimental effect for young and old.

"I think there's a couple of issues that you're going to see if the retirement age is lifted," House of Hope general manager Lizzie Miller said.

"One is that by keeping people in the workforce longer there's going to be less opportunity for young people to find work and that's already something we're seeing. We have a lot of people who come through the doors here who are in their 60s and have been made redundant and can't find another job, and if they have to wait even longer before they can access the pension then that number is going to grow even more."

Dennis Harkness from Albion Park, a House of Hope volunteer, was made redundant from his job as a coal miner in 2009 and will qualify for the pension when he turns 65 in four months.

For Mr Harkness the idea of working to 70 is not something he could see many people in his industry doing.

"Working like I did I've got a few injuries; my neck, my shoulders, I was buried alive once," he said. "I wouldn't have been able to make it to 70 and I don't think many people who work in an environment like that could.

"As you get older you become less agile and it gets more and more dangerous and as people get into their 60s, they're just going to be pushed out and then they're going to have to wait even longer for the pension."

While he doesn't think he would be able to work until the age of 70, Mr Harkness said even if he could he wouldn't want to.

"When I was made redundant that was it for me. I didn't care how much it would cost me I decided I wanted to enjoy some of my life and I think people should be able to do that.

"I'd feel sorry for people who have to work until 70 and don't get to enjoy their retirement while they're physically able to."

Jude White, of Flinders, is 72 and got the pension at 60. She also disagrees with people having to work until 70.

"People should have some time in their life to enjoy things - the idea of working until 70 just seems completely unfair to me," she said.

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