Australia is not alone in possessing an ageing population, but according to Treasurer Scott Morrison, not only is this good news (“cheer up!”), it’s also been addressed.
Speaking in Sydney at a Council on the Ageing (COTA) event this morning, Mr Morrison said dealing with Australia’s ageing population has “been a key part of our plan”.
“As part of this year’s plan for a stronger economy we have addressed the challenges of ageing on our economy but more broadly,” he said.
“It involves ensuring that choice and opportunity, and the ability for all Australians to build their aspirations for a longer and healthier life – engaged, informed and empowered – all of these are realised.”
Mr Morrison said an ageing population shouldn’t be considered an “economic curse” or an “inescapable drag”, as long as the risks are properly managed.
He said Australia’s targeted migration program has, and will continue to be, critical in mitigating the impacts of a growing body of non-working adults.
Pointing to Treasury’s Shaping a Nation report, he said migration has helped boost Australia’s participation rate and “slowed the impact of ageing on our economy, allowing the economy and society time to adjust and provision for a society where fewer people are working and delivering income tax revenue, but increasingly drawing on government services”.
At the same time, the budget’s allocation to increasing older Australians’ workforce participation will be crucial.
“While there are some age-based limitations within workers compensation schemes, this is not universal. Employers should also know that we are reviewing these limitations because employment frameworks need to facilitate employment, not impede it,” Mr Morrison said.
He said employer incentives and the removal of tax barriers are also critical, pointing to the increase in the Pension Work Bonus and the Pension Loans Scheme, both allowing pensioners to work without suffering significant tax impacts, as outlined in the budget.
Mr Morrison argued it all comes back to building an aspirational society.
“Choice and opportunity should also not retire. We will continue to enliven and encourage people to realise their aspirations at whatever age they may be,” he said.