'Australia simply can't afford people retiring at 65'
EVERALD Compton controversially remains an enthusiastic supporter of retirement at 70 as Australia's politicians back down on the planned change in the pension age.
The outspoken champion of senior rights and recognition, and past chairman of National Seniors, has plenty to say about last week's "vote grabbing" decision by the newly appointed Prime Minister to scrap the plan to increase the pension age to 70 by 2035.
When it was first proposed in 2014 Everald said he pushed for the age to be increased to 70 and his attitude hasn't changed. "Australia simply can't afford people retiring at 65 unless they are physically unable to do the work that is required," a gravelly-voiced Everald says.
Nor does the 86-year-old think that 65 is old.
"Back when the pension was introduced by Deakin and Fisher in 1909, they chose 65 because that was the age when most people died," Everald says.
"Therefore, they said, 'anyone who lives beyond that age, we better look after them'. A 100 years later, life span has increased by 20 years so the equivalent of 65 in 1909 is 85 so I don't know why we are getting terribly excited about having to raise it to 70."
Today's Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's Older Australians at a glance report reiterates Everald's comments by noting, "In 2014-16, Australian men aged 65 could expect to live another 20 years and women another 22 years".
Dollars and sense
Everald believes that older Australians shouldn't be a financial burden on younger generations. Added to this he notes, is a rising pension cost as more Australians live longer. He adds that another five years of work means another five years of superannuation contributions.
His solution is two-fold. Raise the retirement age to 70 to slow down the cost of the pension and create more job opportunities for older workers.
"It's up to governments to create work for people in their senior years instead of denigrating seniors who want to work or simply declaring seniors as a burden," Everald says. "There have been very little efforts by governments to create work suitable for senior Australians rather than be on the dole."
Starbucks announcement about introducing coffee shops "run by oldies" has Everald excited. "Governments have to ensure that older people who want to work can get a job," he says.
He even suggests removing the word retirement, which he deems repugnant, from our vernacular. And, getting rid of the hard and fast age at which people are expected to stop working.
"I think it would be better talking about an age at which you can access your pension and your superannuation, if you want to, but you are entitled to work beyond that," Everald says. "There is then no such thing as employers thinking there is a 'retirement age'. They have to look at all their employees and say, 'are these fellows healthy enough to continue'. "
While Everald is committed to keeping the retirement age discussion alive, and will keeping "stirring" decision makers across Australia, he is concerned that Bill Shorten also opposes the increase in the retirement age.
"I hope that sometime in the future we have a prime minister who is willing to face up to the fact that the retirement age has got to increase to 70," Everald says.
Everald emphatically argues that working for longer delivers a better a quality of life.
"There are all sorts of benefits of staying in the workforce," Everald says. He uses himself as an example as he approaches his 87th birthday while still active in business, working about 10 hours per day. "I think my brain is working alright and my old body is getting a bit more arthritic, but I reckon if I stop working I would die quickly, so I am not going to do that," he says.
Everald adds the thought provoking comment, "You condemn yourself to a quicker exit simply by stopping your brain working and not having your body active as it was before, and not being as productive as you can. In addition, the last thing we want to do is be a burden on younger tax payers."