New tests for age pension

Kari Bourne

PENSIONER groups have largely welcomed the Abbott government's new approach to the aged pension, but repeated their calls for a holistic review of retirement incomes on Thursday.

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday revealed a raft of changes to ensuring those who had prepared for retirement, and could afford to go without a pension, would do so.

He said the pension was a "safety net, not a superannuation scheme" and the government's planned changes represented a compromise on last year's controversial pension cuts.

The changes will mean more than 230,000 asset-rich part-pensioners will have their pensions cut, while those with fewer means can expect a small boost in next week's budget.

If the Senate accepts the changes across the gamut of aged pensioners, the move would save the government some $2.4 billion over the next four years.

While most pensioners will not be better or worse off, the measures will affect those at the top and bottom of the wealth scale, depending on their superannuation income and assets.

About 170,000 with few assets in those groups can expect up to $30 extra a fortnight, while changes to the asset test will also move about 50,000 pensioners from the part-pension to the full pension.

Those with more than $823,000 in assets would see their part-pensions reduced or removed, while a further 91,000 would be unable to claim the pension at all.

While Council of the Ageing chief executive Ian Yates said the proposals were a "better place to start", changes needed to be scrutinised as part of a broader review.

"As the Federal Treasurer and Social Services Minister have been saying publicly, whenever you pull one lever in the retirement incomes space you create consequences elsewhere, some known, some unintended," he said.

"It's important these are properly explored and given full consideration."

The Greens publicly backed the council's call for a review, while Labor leader Bill Shorten hit out at the government's changes, saying the proposals created only more uncertainty.

Topics:  pension

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