Yes, those slave-driving radicals at the Productivity Commission have today called for the retirement age to be lifted to 70 — and News Corp is up in arms on your behalf.

But before you rule out the idea, consider these findings by the comprehensive PC report:

  • The life expectancy of a girl born in 2012 is projected to be more than 94 years and for a boy nearly 92 years;
  • Babies born in 2012 would be projected to live around 29 years after the current age of retirement of 65;
  • There will be 4 million additional Australians aged 75 and over by 2060 (that’s the current population of Melbourne); and
  • Extra pressure on budgets, largely from extra spending on health, aged care and the aged pension, will be equivalent to around 6% of national GDP by 2060.

The PC makes a compelling case for lifting the retirement age to 70 (it’s already gradually lifting from 65 to 67 by 2023. Further change would not happen overnight).

The fact that Australians are living longer — and living healthier and more active lives in older age than previous generations — is one of the great success stories of modern life. People in their 60s and 70s are no longer consigned to sitting in the easy chair, hobbled by arthritis. They are getting hip replacements, donning lycra and cycling long distances. They are watching the latest movie before their grandchildren get to. They are engaged in social movements, they are writing books, they are caravanning around the outback.

This should be celebrated by all of us. But the reality is that a pension age of 65, or 67, is a relic from a previous era. The budget cannot afford for this to continue. Policymakers should carefully consider the proposal to gradually lift the pension age to 70.

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