Chris Smith Breakfast program courtesy of 2GB.
Program Part 1
Program Part 2
Emergency changes to the pension are needed today. It will add to our GDP and it will take pressure off the need for high levels of migration. This concept has enormous potential to help solve supply chain shortages, immediately. If National Cabinet wants job seekers to be used for this purpose, why not extend that opportunity to retirees? It just makes sense. Now, because of the coverage on this issue here recently, I’ve received an email from one of Australia’s most avid supporters of the concept – Australia’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart.
Gina wrote to me and said Chris, thank you for your excellent commentaries including the segment you ran on Australia’s worker shortage. It is an extremely important issue at a time when we are facing such significant labour shortages Australia-wide. To think we penalise pensioners to the extent we do for continuing to work and helping this chronic shortage defies logic. Pensioners should have the ability to work if they choose, and better their own lives. The participation rate differential with New Zealand and countries like Japan and South Korea highlight the wrong policy and path for Australia. Who knows how long it will be before we can safely use immigration to fill labour shortages without adding more pressure on our hospitals. We need the government to act now to let pensioners enjoy Aussie jobs, all the best, Gina Rinehart
Powerful words. Where’s the government when we need it, this is when they need to be proactive. We have an entire retired workforce ready to rescue the economy. It can be done. Should be done. We need to amend pension laws for an emergency period. Treasurer, are you listening? Where are you on this? These are some of the country’s most skilled and experienced people. Let’s use them now because we have drastic supply issues now, that even with these new measures, yesterday, won’t entirely solve the problem. It’s a creative use of our current and reliable resources – our older Australians. Josh Frydenberg, it’s your move.
So why couldn’t we simply make changes to the pension, even for a short term, call them an emergency alteration in order to get recently retired people into the workforce. You know, they’re fit enough, they’ve just left the workforce. Why couldn’t they walk in and do you know an overnight shift at Woolies or Coles stocking the shelves? That’s one of about 100 different jobs they could do. You know, what about call screen or call centre jobs that are very, very depleted at the moment. So that some of our, you know, utilities can operate and serve as customers at the moment. It’s really hard to get onto anyone from a bank or a telecommunications company because of staff that have been furloughed. We just need some of the gaps filled automatically, immediately by people who are willing to work hard and that cohort have a history in this country of being hard workers. You know, they’re triple vaxxed, most of them. They’re experienced, they’re skilled, it’s a no-brainer. If they earn more than $240 dollars a week, they lose 50 cents in the dollar.
Emergency changes to the pension I would have thought are needed. Let older Australians work. They don’t need to work in very crowded areas and put their health in danger and get Omicron. However, let’s repeat: Omicron is a mild variant. They’re triple vaxxed, they’ve got a mask on, there’s social distancing. You can put them in a workplace where they could fill a gap quickly, expertly and you can keep them safe, surely. Let older Australians work.
CS: Ian Henschke is the chief advocate at National Seniors Australia. He’s on the line, Ian good morning again.
IH: Good morning Chris. Yes look, yesterday National Cabinet met, I think it’s one of the things they should’ve done. They announced some changes to, I think foreign student visas where they could increase the amount, they could work up to 20 hours a week. But let’s think about some of the other issues Chris that are even probably more life-threatening. And that is we need nurses. Now, why have we got a society at the moment where when a nurse reaches pension age she leaves the workforce, because if she works a couple of days, she’s not going to be there. Now. I mean, this is happening as we speak. There are almost 5 million baby boomers out there, so there’s people out there in that situation.
IH: Now, there was a nurse the other day, who took up a contract with a hospital. It was the Robina Hospital on the Gold Coast during covid. She did a six-week stint. At the end of that six week stint, she found that she had to pay back Centrelink $10 a week for the next year because she had done that particular stint of six weeks’ work. But if you look at it the other way, Chris, if that nurse worked for a full year, earned $75,000, got her pension, $25,000 dollars, she would have paid $25,000 in tax, would’ve paid her pension. Now she’s going to say, well, why would I go and work.
CS: Why bother.
IH: So, then it doesn’t even make economic sense. And Chris, we spoke about this before. We need to change the system and we have some of the wealthiest people, some of the smartest people in Australia. We’ve got the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry saying the system has to be changed. We’ve got Gina Rinehart, who’s the richest person in the nation, over in Western Australia, saying the system has to be changed. You and I are saying has to be changed.
CS: The Chamber of Commerce boss yesterday spoke to Sky News and mentioned that he would be very supportive of that kind of approach too.
IH: Well, he represents every business group around the country. I mean, they’re all, saying this has to change. And the government for some reason has not actually listened, they’re not even commenting on this. I don’t understand why and the only reason I think it is because it would mean that they have to change the system. And if you have to change the system, change it.
CS: And you think about all those small businesses, all those small businesses that have only just, well a lot of them have shut up shop, a lot of them have shut up shop…