Seniors have welcomed Treasurer Joe Hockey’s public acknowledgement of the barriers keeping older Australians out of the workforce such as age discrimination and physical decline, today.
On Radio National’s AM program this morning, Mr Hockey said: “…we want to change attitudes in the business community as well to encourage business to start thinking about employing people who want to restart their careers after the age of 50”.
He also said: “…we have to start to focus the debate on how we can have a restart to working life after someone turns 45, 50, 55 after manual labour”.
National Seniors chief executive, Michael O’Neill, welcomed the comments.
“The Treasurer’s comments represent a shift from what has been a hardline stance on raising the pension age to 70,” he said.
“For the first time, Mr Hockey has publicly acknowledged the obstacles older workers are facing, from discriminatory recruitment practices to sheer physical exhaustion”.
“Older Australians want to work but, the reality is, if they lose their jobs at 50, 45 even, few businesses will hire them”.
“Raising the retirement age without first changing employer attitudes or providing retraining opportunities will simply shift older Australians from one form of welfare to another”.
“Constructive debate and practical solutions in this area are long overdue,” he said.
Human Rights Commission research indicates that just a 5 percent increase in paid employment of Australians aged 55-plus would add $48 billion to the economy annually.
Long term unemployment rates amongst the over 50s are consistently higher than other age groups. Australia’s mature age workforce participation rates, at 63.6%, are much lower than in countries like New Zealand (77) and Sweden (77.1).