Retirement Incomes Review Panel lacks credibility on low-income issues and must be expanded

4 October 2019

The Australian Council of Social Service is calling on the Treasurer to expand the Retirement Incomes Review panel to ensure that expertise about the needs of people on lower incomes is reflected.

“While ACOSS welcomes the review, the panel does not include expertise from community organisations representing and working with people on lower incomes. This is a serious gap that goes to the credibility of the process,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said.

“We’re urging the Treasurer to engage with ACOSS and its members on how the panel could be expanded to incorporate these perspectives.

“It is vital that the Panel draws on perspectives from across the community, beyond the interests of the financial sector and those who have substantial incomes and wealth. Too often in this area, the loudest and best-resourced voices are the only ones heard. Surely, the most important outcomes of this Review should be to ensure the people who are most vulnerable in later life are able to live with dignity, cover the costs of living, and receive the care and supports they need?

“We are concerned that before the panel has met, reform options are being ruled out. It will not be possible for future governments to properly fund aged care and health services if the current tax treatment of superannuation and of dividends received by retired people are not reconsidered.

“In an area of policy rife with powerful vested interests that has been incrementally reformed over the years – giving rise to claims of ‘reform fatigue’ – it is vital that the government takes this opportunity to get it right.

“It is much more likely the review will succeed if the panel draws from a wider range of perspectives, has the time to consult fully, and reform options and topics for consideration are not ruled out prematurely,” Dr Goldie said.