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Saving and the aging population

By Yvonne Zardani - posted Saturday, 15 December 2001

It was noticeable throughout the recent Federal Election campaign that the government was trying to buy the seniors' vote.

Regrettably, it was also noticeable that when the media presented a negative image of the older population in terms of the cost to the nation of Welfare funding, with the implication that older people are a burden on society, no-one, least of all the government, tried to refute this concept or to present a positive image of our ageing population.

Despite departmental campaigns and rhetoric to the contrary, governments in Australia appear to see old age as a 'disability' to be dealt with by 'hand-outs' in the hope that it will stay out of both sight and mind … except when pensioners and retirees can be wooed via the pork barrel at election time.


The recent presentation at the opening of the Investor Taxation Specialists' new Canberra office by Gary Tilsley, Managing Director of BIS Shrapnell, highlighted the implications for the Australian economy by the ageing of the population.

Mr Tilsley said, in essence, that as the population aged there would be fewer people paying tax to support the increasing number of aged people in the population.

He indicated that this situation would be worsened by the continuing failure of government policies to address the savings crisis in Australia.

His call to government was for the removal of the 'unfair, unjust, illogical and irresponsible' tax surcharge on superannuation and a viable, cohesive and bipartisan savings policy.

This call to action is wholeheartedly endorsed by the Australian Pensioners' and Superannuants' League Qld Inc. The majority of older Australians would much prefer to be self-supporting in their later years and in their retirement.

However, most are prevented from doing so by imposts on superannuation, unconscionable bank fees and charges that eat into savings, the inflexibility of the superannuation system, the lack of government control of superannuation funds and investment services and the lack of accountability of businesses and corporations whose collapses impact on both employees and investors with disastrous social and economic results.


These problems, which are forcing ever-increasing numbers of people into dependency on the welfare system, are being compounded by government policies impacting on mature-age unemployed.

Not only is this group discriminated against when it comes to the job network, although the government denies this, but if they try to start a small business to generate a small amount of income until a job becomes available, Centrelink automatically excludes them from any welfare support.

In addition, it now appears that those mature-age unemployed who have received or who are entitled to any superannuation may be required to spend it all before they become eligible for welfare assistance.

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About the Author

Yvonne Zardani OAM is Queensland State Secretary of the Australian Pensioners and Superannuants' League.

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