Member for Mallee Dr Anne Webster has supported the Coalition’s call to give choice to retirees and veterans to be able to earn more money without any penalty to their pensions.
Dr Webster said increasing the Age and Veteran Service Pension Work Bonus Scheme from $300 to $600 per fortnight would allow retirees to choose whether to return to work or take up new opportunities.
“Workforce shortages are hurting businesses across every sector and it simply makes sense to incentivise those who have so much life experience and skills, to bring them back to the workforce if they wish to. The reality is they are currently penalised for working more,” Dr Webster said.
“In recent times, I have heard so many stories of retired nurses or paramedics who have been surprised that this has not been on the table, stating that they would be willing to do some shifts but do not want it to reduce their pension.
“If older Aussies want to earn extra cash they should not suffer for doing so and I can assure you that every sector will welcome them with open arms.
“Currently, we have 80,000 pensioners and veterans choosing to participate in the workforce. This is incentive for them to work more if they want to, and increase their income. But distressingly there are 420,000 job vacancies in Australia at present. Each one is an opportunity for someone who has retired to consider putting in some hours and easing the pressure. It is also an opportunity to ease the pressure on them with the increasing cost of living.
Currently, age pensioners and veteran service pensioners can earn $300 of income each fortnight without impacting pension payments.
Under the proposed change, age pensioners would be able to earn up to $600 a fortnight and still receive the maximum pension payment. For a couple combined that would be $1,200 per fortnight.
“I personally think that if the government decided to increase this even further, that it should be considered,” Dr Webster said.
Pensioners will continue to accrue unused pension work bonus amounts up to a maximum of $7,800, which can exempt future earnings from the pension income test.
A well targeted policy, designed to increase labour supply, will ease workplace shortages, and put downward pressure on inflation and interest rates.