7 March 2015
Transcript - #2015048, 2015

Doorstop interview

TREASURER:

[Inaudible] when I said we are reaching out to the community and engaging in a conversation about Australia’s future, I meant it and it is about engaging in a discussion about how we meet head on the challenges of Australia’s future. Now, the fundamental point is this, as someone said to me in our discussions yesterday: if we want to stay the same we have to change because the quality of life we have today is going to be there tomorrow but we cant take it for granted.

We are going to have make changes in the way we live in order to preserve the very best of Australian life. Unquestionably, people will discuss the Intergenerational Report; they will look at it. Some will claim it’s a political document, so be it. The numbers and the trends are there, whether it’s the Liberal Party, the National Party, the Labor Party, the Greens or Palmer United. The fact is, the trends are still there, the numbers are still there, the numbers are still there; the challenges of the future are still there. So, it is vitally important that we think outside of the traditional about retirement. I mean, one of the gentlemen just said to me that we shouldn’t use the word ‘retire’. Well, I welcome that suggestion. I think in his view people never retire, they just change careers. That’s a very good point. That’s something that we all need to think about.

When it comes to superannuation people will dip in and out of different careers during the course of their lives – that’s to be welcomed. Mums, who have babies, who step away from their career for a short period of time, we need to give them the choice to go back into a career if that’s the case.

Certainly, when you live in a major capital city, there’s no doubt – very few people can live on one household income and still pay the mortgages in the major capital cities. So, we’ve got to give people the choice to be able to go back into the workforce and we’ve got to change the attitudes of employers along the way.

So, this is a continuation of the conversation with the Australian people. We welcome feedback everywhere, but importantly, we have laid down a plan. We invite our political opponents to join us in this conversation. You can't put your head in the sand and expect that the world's going to change. You've got to be part of that change. 

REPORTER: 

[Inaudible]

TREASURER:

I announced in – well, I obviously flagged in the Mid-Year Economic Update before Christmas that where we could, we were prepared to make further changes in relation to the pension. Now, that was regrettably and sadly drowned out by the siege in Martin Place. But obviously, we want to do everything we can, but we also need to get back to the point where we live within our means. Now, what we have said is we are prepared to discuss these issues with the Labor Party, the Greens, the independents. We need to have change. We want to make sure that change is as fair as possible, but we are the only ones that are offering a proposal, no one else is coming to the party. The Labor Party, the Greens, Independents, they’re not offering a solution; they are simply opposing anything we put up. I say again, the status quo can only remain the status quo if we all undertake change. 

REPORTER:

Do you acknowledge that your plan to index the pension [inaudible]

TREASURER:

Over the longer term, of course, superannuation will play a bigger and bigger part in retirement income. So, quite obviously, as retirement income – private retirement income, increases over the next 40 years as a result of compulsory superannuation, which is heavily subsidised by taxpayers, then naturally enough total reliance on the age pension is going to decrease. That's self-evident. The question is how can we make sure we have a well-resourced safety net for those most vulnerable in the community and that's something we have laid down in our discussions on the Budget. 

REPORTER: 

Should young homebuyers be able to use their super savings [inaudible] 

TREASURER:

It is incredibly hard for young Australians to get into the first home market. We are prepared to look at a diverse range of proposals to help young Australians buy their first home, particularly given that in various parts of Australia, the property market is running quite hot. Any other questions? Lots of journos, but no questions, this is perfect. 

REPORTER:

Should super rules be made more flexible – just on that – should super rules be made more flexible so that people can dip into their savings when they need to such when they need to, for example, retraining for a new job? 

TREASURER:

These are the sorts of issues we are prepared to discuss with the Australian people. Over the longer term, if a young Australian is going to live to 100, they are going to have many careers. Naturally enough, they are not going to be retiring at 65. So, with many careers and a longer time in the workforce, which is their choice, then we may need to look at how we can make superannuation more flexible to cope with the ins and outs from a working life. Okay, any others? 

REPORTER:

Are you looking at taking a package of changes to the next election?

TREASURER:

I'm not going to speculate on that. Any others? Fantastic, unbelievable. Good on you, thank you.