Pensioners concerned about certainty of their future finance
OLDER Australians may be looking for certainty about their pensions, superannuation, health and future housing options, but they probably won't find it in this election campaign, Nationals Seniors chief Michael O'Neill says.
Mr O'Neill has hosted a series of forums and debates with over-50 audiences around the country during the campaign and uncertainty has been a dominant theme.
He said although his group would not back "one side or the other", health and retirement incomes were most members' top two concerns.
The Coalition has promised several measures aimed at women and driving more equality in superannuation arrangements - including a $500,000 cap on after-tax super contributions.
Labor has challenged the government by pledging a 15% tax on retirees' annual earnings over $75,000, and promised a wide-ranging review of superannuation.
Both major parties have proposed doubling the tax on super contributions for those earning $250,000 a year or more - from 15% to 30%.
But Mr O'Neill said the key issue for most older Australians was "uncertainty and confusion" surrounding retirement income after a series of changes over the past 10 years.
"People are questioning the value of saving and going without for a longer time to build up a nest egg for retirement when they see government policies attacking superannuation," he said.
"Playing with super has become a consistent theme for all governments at budget time. I think the feeling is that most older Australians are flat out knowing what policies the government will have in 12 months time, let alone what could happen over a decade."
He said while he supported Labor's proposal for a review of superannuation policy, that review needed to cover all parts of the retirement income area, including pensions, housing options and how to pay for health costs as people aged.
Mr O'Neill said another issue was the financial, emotional and sometimes physical and sexual abuse of older Australians - issues examined in a recent Senate inquiry. He was heartened by a Coalition pledge for an "elder abuse response national strategy" to look at such issues.
"It's good recognition of the issues and a good starting point, but it needs to explore what systems we need to address the problems, and explore why the existing law enforcement doesn't work," he said.