House debates

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Constituency Statements

Ageing Population

9:51 am

Photo of Angus TaylorAngus Taylor (Hume, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Among the statistics on our ageing population, one in particular stands out for me. About 4,000 people in Australia today are aged over 100 but by 2040 it is estimated that the number will be more than 40,000. During the winter break of parliament, I held a number of community forums across Hume in Cowra, Grenfell, Boorowa, Harden, Young and Cootamundra. The forums were to speak to and hear from senior residents about budget measures and other issues that affect them. We had terrific turnouts: 110 people in Cowra, 70 in Young, 60 in Cootamundra, 50 in Grenfell and so on. One of my opening remarks to these forums was that we should be celebrating the fact that we are living longer. It is a great thing.

Currently, 2.7 million Australians are aged over 65—that is, 13 per cent of the population. There will be four million by 2021 and 7.5 million by 2041 or 25 per cent of the population. So when government starts talking now about providing and planning for this change in our fortunes, it is the right time to be doing so. In this context, what I made very clear at the forums was the need for us as a society to make sure that we have a sustainable and affordable universal healthcare system, welfare payments such as the age pension and aged care programs. It would be politically opportunistic to say, 'Let's keep on spending,' like those opposite, but we are not going to do that.

At one of the forums I was asked, 'Why can't we just park Labor's debt and leave it sitting there for them, if and when they return?'—hopefully a long way off. We are not going to do that either because it would be irresponsible. Neither are we going to saddle our children or grandchildren with the one debt that can be passed down the generations and that is government debt. We can debate how to find the best ways to repay the debt but we are not going to compromise on the need to repay the debt.

The elderly residents I have been speaking to have been receptive and positive. They have told me that they understand and support the need to make welfare, aged care and health care more sustainable while providing for the most vulnerable in our community. The changes the government is proposing are fair and are gradual. When I am in my early 70s, so will be a quarter of the population. That is comforting—there will be a lot of us around. What is also comforting is knowing that, a generation ahead of time, the government is planning how we can afford to support that many people in retirement to best meet their health and welfare needs. We will be holding further seniors forums in Crookwell and in other centres in the coming weeks. I expect to report back on continuing support for the government's agenda. The seniors of our community have been around long enough to know who can be trusted to get this right. (Time expired)


No comments