GenX must work longer: Hockey

Treasurer Joe Hockey has given his clearest indication Generation X will have to work until 70 as the Government flags an overhaul of welfare and entitlements.

Mr Hockey also appeared to confirm reports in _The Weekend West _that the Government would change pension indexation - a move that could slow welfare spending.

Speaking in Washington, Mr Hockey warned that people of his age would have to work longer if the Federal Budget was to cope with the stresses of an ageing population.

"It may be the case that my generation has to work for an extra three years," Mr Hockey said.

He said that in Britain and probably in Australia one in three children born today would live to 100.

The retirement age is 65 but is set to rise to 67 by 2023.

The age pension is the biggest expenditure in the Budget at one-tenth of all spending. It is currently increased at the same rate as male average weekly earnings.

But Mr Hockey suggested pensions might be linked to CPI, which has risen slower than wages. "We need a sensible discussion about the sustainability of our entire quality of life," Mr Hockey said.

Labor seized on the comments as proof the Government was poised to break an election promise of no cuts or changes to pensions.

Shadow finance minister Tony Burke said any lift in the retirement age would be a big deal for workers in physically hard jobs.

A change would need Senate approval and Labor has said it would not let the Government break promises on aged pensions.

Clive Palmer did not return calls yesterday to explain his position on lifting the pension age.

In his speech, Mr Hockey said the number of Australians aged 65 to 84 would double by 2050.

Switching the aged pension from average male wages to CPI would likely save $1 billion a year.

While flagging welfare cuts, Mr Hockey had to defend Tony Abbott's paid parental leave scheme.

The Prime Minister's signature $5.5 billion program, which has been attacked from inside the coalition, would pay mothers their full salary for six months up to $75,000.

The West Australian

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