Ongoing debate about superannuation and other policies affecting people’s retirement income is creating confusion and doubt, seniors advocates say.

They say what’s really needed is a comprehensive review of Australia’s retirement income system, rather than the continuing piecemeal approach debating changes to taxation, superannuation and the age pension.

National Seniors Australia chief executive Michael O’Neill says constant talk about change has fed into a maelstrom of confusion and doubt.

“I think that’s what we’re seeing from people as they become increasingly cautious and doubtful about what’s going on,” he told AAP.

The over-50s lobby group and seniors advocate COTA Australia have been arguing for an independent retirement incomes review, led by a panel of experts and involving key stakeholders in the process.

Mr O’Neill says there needs to be a pull-together of retirement income strategy that looks at the needs of the population and the capacity of the nation, covering pensions, superannuation, other forms of saving and retirement income plus the taxation system.

“There seems to be some indications the current government might do something in the retirement income space to try and pull it together a little bit,” Mr O’Neill says.


“It needs to be co-ordinated and I think there would be great benefit in some degree of bipartisanship in that space, just to provide certainty for people.” COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates says it would be easier to get past the politics if the industry as a whole told both sides of politics the way forward.

“A degree of bipartisanship would be important in this regard because we need a system that’s stable for the next 20 or 30 years,” he told AAP.

He says the stability is needed for individuals and also because, as the financial systems inquiry said, the superannuation industry is now quite critical to the economy as a whole.

“It’s not stable at the moment because its policy settings are not consistent.” Mr Yates says the individual proposals for parts of the retirement incomes system need to put together to develop a system that is fair and sustainable for the long term.

“This is the time to do it before you get really big numbers rolling into the superannuation drawdown phase.” Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg last month said Treasurer Joe Hockey was giving a lot of thought to the idea of a broader review of superannuation and retirement in terms of the taxation system.


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