Subjects: Age and Veteran Service Pension Work Bonus Scheme proposal; inflation forecast.
The Treasurer has put Australians on notice to prepare for cost of living to keep on rising much faster, much higher than previously expected, peaking near seven per cent by December. It comes as businesses across the country battle severe workforce shortages.
The Federal Opposition Leader is proposing pensioners fill the gap and Peter Dutton joins me now from Perth this morning. Peter, good morning to you.
Now you’re proposing that we double the amount retirees can earn without affecting their pension. Is that holding them back now that if they do earn more, it really cuts into their pension entitlements?
It certainly is Michael, and if you speak to a lot of pensioners, they’re worried because their pension will decrease for every dollar that they earn above the $300 threshold per fortnight.
So this is about pensioners who choose to go back to part time work. It might be that their circumstances have changed and by increasing the threshold, we tap into those pensioners and veterans who are on a pension and choose to work at a time when the economy desperately needs it.
There are tens of thousands of jobs that are going begging at the moment, and that is true in the agriculture sector, in tourism, in hospitality, in retail. We can’t wait for migration, we can’t wait for this workforce to come from anywhere else. There’s nowhere else for it to come from – it needs to come from people who are prepared to work now.
Remove the financial impediments so people can earn a few extra dollars. They won’t see their pension go down, but businesses can get cracking again.
Good idea. I guess the obvious question, Peter, is why didn’t you do it when you were in government?
Well, for a couple of reasons. I think that at the moment we’re looking at a really acute situation that’s really compounded, I think over the course of the last 12 months – so that’s a fair question, fair criticism – but for me, as Leader of the Liberal Party now, I believe it’s the right policy here and now.
Now, Jim Chalmers yesterday dismissed it. The Prime Minister is obviously overseas again – he hadn’t even considered it.
So all I’m asking is that the government consider it because I don’t think it can wait until September. I think there are a lot of businesses at the moment that are screaming out for workers and a lot of pensioners who are prepared to go to work tomorrow.
I think that’s right. Now senior groups saying it’s not enough and we just need to move to a simpler taxation system. Is that something you’d support?
Oh, I think so. Certainly from my perspective, the Liberal Party believes very strongly in supporting choice and supporting people’s ability and desire to work and to keep as much of that money for themselves and for their family as possible. That’s the values that would underpin any changes that we would propose.
But the question now is for the government to explain why they won’t implement it now? It comes at a relatively low cost, we had this costed by Treasury, and it would have a huge economic benefit for the economy.
Peter, just one very quick question, quick answer, if you don’t mind. We’ve got warnings of inflation heading to seven per cent by the end of the year and probably a bit more. Do you have a fear that that number might be far greater than that?
Well that seems to be what we’re getting prepared for at the moment, the Treasurer has been clear about that. I just don’t want to see a government spending money – as the ratings agencies are warning now – that’s going to fuel inflation even further because that will mean higher interest rates and that’s a huge burden on families.
Alright, Peter Dutton there from Perth this morning. Thank you.