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Treasurer wants over-65s to keep working

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Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is concerned Australia’s ageing population is an “economic time bomb” for the national economy.

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He wants older Australians to work for longer to help keep the nation afloat.

However, Labor has accused the treasurer of simply wanting to keep workers chained to their tools and desks “until they drop”.

Frydenberg will use a speech on Tuesday to call for a boost to workforce participation rates for over-65s, in an attempt to grow an economy saddled with debt.

“As a nation, we need to effectively leverage the three P’s – population, participation and productivity – to meet this challenge,” he will tell the Committee for Economic Development of Australia in Sydney.

Frydenberg will argue keeping the budget in surplus is important to meet the long-term challenge of an ageing population and head off debt bills.

“At $19 billion per annum, our interest bill is more than double what we invest in child care and nearly as much as we spend on schools,” he will say.

“Our debt burden represents not just a cost to the budget and therefore every taxpayer, but also an opportunity cost as it constrains the government’s ability to invest in other areas.

“If we don’t remain fiscally disciplined today, the next generation will have to pick up the bill tomorrow.”

Labor frontbencher Jason Clare says the Morrison government “have got form” on making people work for longer.

“They tried to increase pension to 70. They’ve cut the pension or they’ve frozen superannuation before. There are no new ideas here,” he told Sky News.

“It’s just Frydenberg digging up the old ideas of getting people to work longer.”

Clare said one-quarter of people on the Newstart allowance were over 55.

“How about thinking about how we can help some of those that are on the dole now that are 55, thrown on the economic scrap heap, can’t find a job for love or money,” he said.

“Put a bit of money back into TAFE, into training – they’ve ripped $3 billion out of TAFE – and try and help those people get a new job and get back into the workforce.”

Workforce participation for over-65s stands at 14.6 per cent, up from six per cent 20 years ago.

But Frydenberg says 80 per cent of education happens before Australians turn 21.

“This will have to change if we want to continue to see more Australians stay engaged in work for longer.”

He will point to Australia’s higher life expectancy, a growing national median age and a shrinking number of working-age Australians.

-AAP

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