Half Hearted Pension Reforms Fail To Alleviate Worker Shortage Crisis

Written by:
30 March 2023
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“The latest job vacancy data confirms the Federal Government’s half-hearted pension reforms are inadequate to fix our unprecedented worker shortage. We need to get serious about fixing this problem once and for all,” said Daniel Wild, Deputy Executive Director at the Institute of Public Affairs.

According to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are now over 438,000 job vacancies across the nation, and almost a quarter of Australian businesses are struggling to find workers. The level of job vacancies represents a 240% increase from May 2020.

In December, the Federal Government passed its pension work bonus reform, which only allows age pensioners and veterans to earn $226 per week, up from $150 per week, before their benefits start to be reduced by 50 cents on the dollar.

“Since these pension changes were enacted, job vacancies have only decreased by 1%, which is a clear demonstration that comprehensive reform is needed,” said Mr Wild.

“The IPA has repeatedly called on politicians to remove this inefficient and discriminatory barrier to work once and for all. Today’s data shows that they urgently need to get on with completing this simple and effective reform in full,” said Mr Wild.

A recent survey by National Seniors revealed that 20% of all pensioners would consider re-joining the workforce if work restrictions were adequately eased. That is equivalent to over 510,000 workers. Currently only 3% of the pensioners in Australia work compared to 25% in New Zealand.

“The IPA presented research to the Senate Standing Committee for Community Affairs prior to the reforms passing Parliament, which showed it is fiscally and economically sound for all work barriers facing age pensioners and veterans to be removed,” Mr Wild said.

“The dignity of work, a key tenet in the Australian way of life, must be extended to Australia’s age pensioners who are able, and importantly, wanting to make a contribution.”

Previous analysis by the IPA revealed that Australia’s worker shortage crisis is costing Australians $32 billion in foregone wages and the Federal Government $7 billion in foregone income tax revenue.

“This is revenue that could have been invested in roads, schools, and hospitals, or been used to help pay off our spiralling national debt,” said Mr Wild.

“Removing all red-tape and barriers for Australian pensioners to get back into the workforce, without suffering significant financial penalties, is a simple and effective policy measure that is good for them and good for our nation.”

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