Work until I am 70

I read Mr Hockey wants us to work until we are 70.

If the Abbott government decides to further raise the pension age, it would be staggered over half a decade or more.

Read more: SMH – Good article, covers a lot of considerations

Pension physical risk

I probably can work until I am 70, provided I stay on hormone replacement therapy to keep my brain functional. I have a desk based job not requiring too much physical exertion. Also I am probably excluded as the change will be staggered to take into account those who worked pre the Superannuation Guarantee Charge days.

What of my husband, however? He has a very physical job. Are we expecting him to be shoveling mulch at 70? What of brickies, sparkies or chippies? They can’t all move into management, after all.

Won’t we be keeping young people out of a job? So pensions go down but New Start goes up? We can’t afford pensions but we can afford the Paid Parental Leave scheme?

We need a younger population as we are, as a colleague said today, an inverse pyramid. We need migrants to work to pay taxes to fund our older population.

What about that Liberal objective expressed in paragraph j:

(j) in which social provision is made for the aged, the invalid, the widowed, the sick, the unemployed and their children

I guess not, huh?

There is the little fact that the average life expectancy of a First Australian man is actually less than 70 years.

I totally accept that we cannot pay what we cannot afford, however I’m not sure making us work until we are 70 is such a sensible idea. There would probably be an increase in work related injuries in many occupations. Higher medical costs. On the other hand, Hockey also thinks we may have to disallow medicine for sick children.

We need to find other approaches to this problem, IF it is actually a problem and that is yet to be proven to my satisfaction. We give massive tax breaks to various businesses: perhaps some of THOSE need to be adjusted before we send 70 year-olds into the coal mines. Because of course under the current regime we don’t recognise environmental issues and we will indeed still be mining coal.

Some transparency about all this would be wonderful, but I’m not holding my breath. Sadly.

Credit: The Physical Risk Continuum graph was kindly compiled and supplied by Paul Davis, using data from the ABS. You can follow Paul on Twitter @davispg.

Edit: This was definitely a very quick, off-the-cuff rant. There are many considerations not discussed: childcare provided by grandparents, volunteer work undertaken by older people, the many professions requiring physical fitness, age conditions such as dementia, lack of sufficient superannuation for many in transition, superannuation dependent on economy (remember GFC?). Some of these aspects are discussed in the comments, so DO read the great comments below.

26 comments on “Work until I am 70

  1. […] the population at seventy, simply because that is the age Australia’s current government is planning to set as the retirement age. The young also have to be cared for, however I have excluded the young from the above analysis as […]


  2. […] packets! It used to bulge with lipsticks! Then we have Mr Hockey and Mr Abbott wanting us to work until we are 70, retrain even. I’ll be busy sorting the damn pill bottles at this […]


  3. […] you can encourage your workplace to participate next year. Given us Aussies look like having to work until we are 70, we better stay […]


  4. […] the practical implementation of any such scheme. I also can’t see many people being able to work until they are 70, other than some rather portly politicians and some other non-manual workers (including […]


  5. […] like our public education, public medicine and pensions. These as we know come out of taxes. We like our roads in good repair. If our government […]


  6. Perhaps if we were all able to enjoy the benefits of our country’s resources being mined then this wouldn’t be such a major issue. Instead we have very few getting very rich from benefitting from the labour of the people who will now have to work until they drop. Our taxation system is unsustainable in a country with such a small, but rapidly ageing, population. We either need to import labour and start generating national wealth or face the prospect of enormous burden on health and welfare systems to support the overburden of an aged population. Sociologists have been sounding the retirement dilemma alarm for years but successive governments simply didn’t want to hear it.

    Without the reforms necessary in schemes like the National Disability Insurance Scheme and a genuine and real assessment of the baby boomer retirement bubble then our country is in trouble. Just informing us that we have to work beyond the point at which we are productive is short-sighted and simplistic. As people are already pointing out, us tail-enders didn’t have superannuation when we were young, we didn’t have subsidised child-care so women could just go out to work and amass assets, our bodies are still wearing out in exactly the same way bodies wore out when the pension was first introduced but we just live longer with the same ailments and physical capacity.

    Exactly what kind of work are we expected to be able to do to bring in enough income to live on while we’re in our 60’s and 70’s? Child care? No thank you. The little buggers are too quick when you have to try and catch them to feed and clean them. Factory work? Unsafe for those with wandering attention spans and arthritic fingers. Administration? How are we to keep up with technology when they introduce a new iphone even before we’ve managed to master the functions of the one we bought a year ago?

    We best be very mindful folks and don’t eat the Soylent Green!


    • Your last line had me laughing. Soylent Green in one of my ALL TIME favourite movies! Don’t know why I didn’t think of it in conjunction with the above rant! Brilliant connection!

      You make very good points. We should have addressed the issue of the aging population MUCH earlier. It is not as if this has just happened, we have known about it for years.


  7. My husband is retiring not that he wants to but he is 68yrs old has worked since he was 14 he is very tired. Which he is having trouble coming to terms with. But cooking for lots of people for a long time and doing the work for 2 people for a long time is now paying its toll.

    We have some superanuation, so we will have to live off that till we run out. We have super because all our lives we have worked and saved worked and saved. We have hardly gone away in all the years we have been married and hardly lived it up. Just in order that we can now live without Goverment assistance like we have always done except for the $22 a month we received for a little while for having 4 children. Do you hear that Mr Abbott. Yes that is all we recieved when people our age had young children we paid lots of taxes and worked very hard.

    Now liberals and Co are trying to make us feel like we are all a pack of sponges because you and your kind had the chance that a lot of us did not to earn great money to live in comfort and still get a real lot of money re a great Pension etc.


    • Thank you Maureen.

      I think it is very important our manual workers speak out.

      Like Brooksy I think the next generation will be OK, those who started their working life under the SGC, but those of in the transition generation with the GFC impact? Not so good.

      What about women who didn’t work until kids were in high school, then after the nest is empty the marriage dissolves? They will not have enough super, ever. And fewer job skills perhaps.


  8. Police have mandatory retirement at 60, so how does that work?


  9. Its a brain buster, I left school at 14, have been a labourer pretty much my whole life, shearer, ditch digger, farmer, truck driver and a dozen more like roles.
    At 47 I have a long list of work injuries, scars and memories I would rather forget.
    My current state, painful arthritis in my fingers, knees and one hip all continue to deteriorate, this is the legacy of hard work.
    I can still do the work I have always done but it hurts, it sometimes hurts a hell of a lot and at days end I can barely use my stuffed hands to pick up my coffee. And that only after the battle of filling a kettle & opening a coffee jar without dropping them is completed as my grip strength now fades over the day and im damn near helpless buy 7pm.
    The simple act of getting undressed has seen questions of are you ok asked through my door due to the groans and cries I sometimes emit as I twist some tender joint or damaged ligaments pull painfully with any motion.

    Work as I always have until im 70…its never going to happen, so what do I do about that, clearly im not disabled, just becoming worn out possibly 23 years before I can take a rest if Abbott and Hockey get their way.

    The future is far from rosy as my super is never going to keep me warm & fed, we saw a glimmer of hope for an increasable under Gillard, but Abbott removed that hope too.

    Why doesn’t he just shoot everyone over 50, seems he has nothing but contempt and malice for them anyway.


    • I was hoping to hear from you Brooksy. I am going to promote your comment as I think your situation says a great deal about the short-sightedness of this proposal.

      Thank you very much for your contribution to the discussion.



      • No probs Robyn, promote away. My Generation and those before me will suffer more than the next I think, we didn’t get OH&S until very late, for many workers it arrived not at all, so we carry serious scars & hurts we deal with every day that thankfully future generations should be able to avoid.

        So perhaps we are more broken through decades of bad practices and lifting things now left for fork lifts & other mechanical means. Nothing against the bosses of the day, they did it all and usually while working alongside us. Simply nobody knew what we would be like 20 years down the track.

        But you made me think, and it instills a fear that the end of my working life will not arrive, the rest will never come and I will die in harness busting my guts to prove employable all while doing nothing more than trying to make ends meet. No happy end, just work, eat, sleep and repeat until the curtain falls.

        This abortion of decency by Abbott must be crushed.

        We built this bloody country with our blood sweat and all too often tears, who is he to tear it apart and drive us down.


    • I appreciate your input. As an office worker, I know that I am primarily employed because of my brain, not my hands. In my case, working till I’m 70 doesn’t exactly fill me with joy but at least I know that it’s possible.

      I think my story doesn’t help the conversation, which is why I appreciate what you have said and think that input from you and others in a similar situation is so important. As my friends on SomethingWonky pointed out, there is a real double whammy for people engaged in more physical work – lower wages plus a shorter working life. So if you follow the chain, this is not just about the age of retirement – it’s also about having effective action to promote fair wages during our working lives and ensuring better and more superannuation to prepare for the end of work too.


  10. I am not actually sure the current crop of LNP in charge around the country can actually add up? We have all these stupid short term ideas to get cash in, just so they can turn around prior to an election & say “Look how good are we, debt is not so bad now”. YET the stupid ideas they are coming up with, all end up costing us more in the long run, which NO-ONE in media is addressing at all, just repeating press releases verbatim.

    Qld LNP want to flog off all our assets, though can’t answer how much more it is going to cost us in the future with higher prices, not to mention being held hostage to commercial interests, all for the sake of having a nice few billion to say they took off the debt? Like living in the boonies, selling your car because you are unemployed, then finding you can’t get a job at all because you have no car to travel there.

    These Federal guys are doing the same. Not taxing the big mining companies, for some reason keeping the MRRT in place is evil as far as the LNP are concerned, yet making people work longer, putting those in poverty even further under crap, not assisting single parents (but paying ladies of calibre heaps to have a kid) is all good? How much more is it going to cost us and our blowing out Health budget for these people to work longer using bodies that really can’t cop that sort of damage? Where the hell are the jobs going to come from? More businesses going to get even higher handouts so they can employ an over 60 for 6months to get the bonus Govt payment (then flick them of course as they tend to do). The list goes on, yet if you look past the short-term gain it results in long term costs that are much higher, so dumb!

    Honestly, sometimes I think I have woken up in the twilight zone. I might be crap at math but geeeez starting to look like a brain surgeon compared to these guys. ARGH! rant over 😉


    • I didn’t really mention superannuation but as you and I were discussing with Betty and others on Twitter this morning, superannuation is by no means guaranteed or sufficient.

      I worry about the health costs and possibly a rise in deaths in the work place. This is not a sensible policy at this time.


  11. I fall into the group that has to work til I’m sixty six and a half! By then I’ll be fit for nothing!


  12. I was just chatting to my husband about this issue and he had also mentioned how would people doing heavy physical labour cope if they had to work until they are 70? Not easy!!
    I hope a better idea comes along, as I also don’t fancy having to work until then! I agree with you, we certainly need more young people to help pay for the older ones.


  13. Hi Robyn, an excellent post. I’m with you noting an absence of evidence in the current ‘debate’ if one could call it that. In 2009 the Pension Review report was tabled to parliament. A standout quotation for me from the review is:

    Compared with many other OECD countries, Australia’s income support system is targeted and efficient, and is relatively better placed to deal with demographic change. This is primarily because Australia’s focus on providing comprehensive, although conditional, basic income support does not expose the government and taxpayers to the financial risks of many of the social insurance style schemes adopted by other OECD countries

    So, according to the review, the Pension system itself seemed OK and capable of addressing Australia’s demographic changes. What changed? Well, in my opinion, it is the ‘lack’ of taxation, driving in part by structural changes introduced via way of over-generous taxation expenditures, and reduced government revenue (tax) which are the challenge. The 2013 taxation expenditure outlined, for example, outlines over $100 billion dollars of taxation expenditures (foregone tax). In my books, that is quite a bit. Perhaps rather than ‘cutting costs’ taxation expenditures should be considered?
    Then we have the revenue side of the equation. One of the last ‘gifts’ to the electorate of the Howard Government was significant tax handouts (commonly called middle class welfare); as well as quite ‘generous’ changes to superannuation rules which has allowed some to ‘reduce’ tax.
    So all in all it seems we have a system that is not collecting enough tax. In my opinion it’s not that we have an expenditure problem, but a revenue problem.


    • I love your store of supporting evidence! I need you as my pre-publish researcher! 🙂

      That IS a lot of tax foregone! Could do quite a bit with that, a good treasurer could.

      Where are the adults, again?


  14. Love your leading line -needed a laugh-the patches are expensive! wonder how easy it will be to get keep a job In our late 60’s. I guess there is a big cultural charge needed all round.


    • The patches are $14 a month. At least mine are!

      I just can’t see it happening. OK some people can work into their 80s – actors, speakers, ex Prime Ministers. What of geriatric conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia? What provisions for them?

      So many practical conditions not considered at all!


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