Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has flagged possible changes to superannuation rules before the next election.
In last week’s budget the Government confirmed the retirement age would be lifted to 70 by the year 2035.
During an appearance on the ABC’s Q&A program last night, Mr Hockey told the audience he was now looking at areas such as superannuation to better prepare Australians for the change.
Mr Hockey told host Tony Jones that the Government would have “more to say about retirement incomes further down the track”.
“In this term?” Jones asked.
“Well, I suspect it will be in this term,” Mr Hockey replied.
Jones: So it’s on the cards that we could see, in this term, a change to the year – the age – at which you can access your super?
Hockey: Well, I think it’s something that we need to have a proper process to discuss with all the affected stakeholders.
Jones: But it sounds like it’s in your mind.
Hockey: It is on my mind and it’s on Tony Abbott’s mind. We’re thinking about how we’re going to make sure that the quality of life for Australians into the future is sustainable.
The Q&A audience also questioned the Treasurer on changes to unemployment benefits, higher education, and the health system announced in the budget.
Mr Hockey was both jeered and cheered during his appearance on the show.
The audience erupted in laughter when the Treasurer denied politicians needed to lie to get elected.
There was a similar response when Jones asked Mr Hockey if introducing a $7 co-payment for visiting the doctor broke the Coalition’s pre-election promise not to introduce new taxes without an election.
“Well, I don’t accept… it’s a payment. You can call it a tax,” Mr Hockey said.
“Given that of the $7, $2 goes to the doctor, I didn’t know doctors in that situation are receiving taxes, but your call. You want to call it a tax, you can call it anything you want, you can call it a rabbit.”
Mr Hockey said the state of the country’s books justified the cuts and other measures announced by the Government.
“After the 1996 budget, governments have been handing out money,” he said.
“At various points it was based on extra revenue from the mining boom, in more recent years it has been borrowings. It has to come to an end.
“What we’re trying to make sure is that the pain is as fairly as possible across the electorate.”
Mr Hockey’s appearance came after polls published in the Fairfax and News Corp papers showed support for the Coalition had slumped in light of the budget.
The polls were published yesterday, a day after state and territory leaders met in Sydney for emergency talks on $80 billion in budget cuts for schools and hospitals over the next decade.
Meanwhile, former Victorian premier John Brumby has backed changes to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to help fix the funding shortfall for the states.
In a speech at the University of Melbourne, Mr Brumby said a broader base or increased rate appears to be the least worst option.