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Seniors groups have labelled the Abbott Government cruel and heartless after it ignored its own Commission of Audit to lift the age pension access age to 70.

Anyone born after 1965 will have to work until they are 70 to get the pension, which may also be curtailed by the Government as it seeks to keep a lid on spiralling costs.

Treasurer Joe Hockey confirmed yesterday that the access age for the pension would be increased gradually from 2023 until it reaches 70 in 2035.

The audit, released on Thursday, advocated a more gentle increase to 70, kicking in from 2053.

Mr Hockey, who argued he expected bipartisan support for the move, said lifting the pension age to 70 was all about putting the Budget on a sustainable basis.

"The age pension expenditure today is currently more than we spend on defence. It's rising to $72 billion rapidly," he said.

"Anyone who is entitled to the pension now is certainly not going to be affected. It is hugely important that we have long-term planning out of this Budget."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the move to increase the pension was a broken promise, after Prime Minister Tony Abbott pledged before the election not to change pensions.

"Labor doesn't support the Abbott Liberal Government breaking promises. Labor doesn't support Tony Abbott's bleak vision for the future of Australia," he said.

Senior groups were even angrier about the move.

The Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association said pensioners were looking in horror at what the Government was proposing, both to the pension access age and a possible clampdown on the payment's rate.

"Mr Hockey's confirmation that the Government intends to raise the pension age is leaving pensioners, carers and those working on low incomes aghast", association manager Amelia Christie said.

National Seniors chief executive Michael O'Neill said the pension access change would achieve nothing if older people still faced major barriers to employment.

"There's no point raising the pension age if the jobs aren't there for older workers," he said.

"Older Australians will be subjected to the indignity of hanging in there, rolling from one form of welfare to another, before falling into retirement."

But the Actuaries Institute said life expectancy rates were constantly understated.

It said that while the overall life expectancy rate was 79 for men and 84 for women, this was closer to 93 and 94 respectively once future improvements in mortality rates were taken into account.

The West Australian

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