Target super tax concessions, not pensioners

by Richard Denniss in The Australian Financial Review
Originally published in The Australian Financial Review on April 22, 2014

You only get one chance to make a first impression and, if you are treasurer, you only get one chance to deliver your first budget. Joe Hockey has been talking up his determination to make savage cuts and “end the age of entitlement” for months but, with public support for the Abbott government continuing to slide, there is less and less appetite in the prime minister’s office to do so.

So how do you deliver a tough first budget that avoids political pain? Easy. Simply announce cuts that don’t kick in for decades. Hockey’s solution to our “budget crisis” seems to revolve around increasing the age at which we become eligible for the age pension. The ALP kicked off eligibility changes with an increase from 65 to 67 years by 2023, but Hockey wants to push that up to 70.

But if we are in the middle of a budgetary crisis – and that is a big if – then increasing the age at which Generation X-ers can access the age pension will do nothing to help now.

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