Pensioners have savaged a suggestion by Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss that retirees are exhausting their superannuation savings on “cruises and the luxuries of life” before falling back on the aged pension.
Mr Truss made the comments in a post-budget speech at the Conservative Club in Brisbane on Wednesday morning.
While outlining the government’s approach to the budget, including its dramatic changes to welfare payments and the aged pension, Mr Truss highlighted the increasing number of people falling into the aged care pension age group (an increase of “1100 per week”).
He then went on to say some pensioners enjoyed a lifestyle that included overseas trips funded by superannuation.
“Increasingly the lifestyle – and the savings for superannuation – are being seen as the opportunity to enjoy a few cruises and the luxuries of life for a few years until it runs out and then people wish to fall back on the aged pension.”
Queensland president of the Australian Pensioners and Superannuation League, Ray Ferguson, completely rejected Mr Truss’s comments, saying they were “out of touch”.
Mr Ferguson said a growing number of baby boomers were retiring with mortgages still to be paid off and with nest eggs of about $150,000.
“I completely reject Mr Truss comments that pensioners are wasting their nest egg on luxury overseas trips,” Mr Ferguson said.
“The fact is that – and the evidence supports it – the baby boomers today are retiring, our prospective pensioners are retiring, on a less than $150,000 nest egg,” he said.
“And a lot less for women because they have had not spent the same amount of time full-time in the workforce.”
He said more retirees were often paying off mortgages with their superannuation.
“More and more baby boomers are retiring with a mortgage of around $40,000 and $60,000,” he said.
“The most sensible thing for them to do is pay off their mortgage.
“And once they do that there is not much of a pool of money left over as far as their superannuation … is concerned.”
Mr Ferguson said it was the Abbott government that had delayed the increase in the guaranteed superannuation levy – from 9 per cent to 12 per cent – to improve the situation.
“It has been this government – Mr Truss as deputy prime minister and Mr Abbott as prime minister – who have now delayed the increase in the guaranteed superannuation levy,” he said.
“And this government has taken action to defer those increases.”
During his speech Mr Truss said that from 2010 to 2050 the number of people aged between 65 and 84 was expected to double and the number of people 85 and over was expected to quadruple.
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