The head of WA's biggest company has entered the debate into raising Australia's retirement age, suggesting it could help gender equality in the workforce.

Wesfarmers chief executive Richard Goyder said increasing the retirement age could help women by minimising the career impact of taking maternity leave in their 20s or 30s.

"There's been a real focus on making advances in your career at that age and I think it's less relevant," he said.

"We will find over time with people going into senior roles that age is less of an issue."

Speaking at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia event in Perth yesterday, Mr Goyder stopped short of endorsing the Productivity Commission's call to raise the pension age to 70 but said it was "a good debate to have".

Apart from fiscal reasons, too many people who retired young were not productive in a real sense and in some ways their quality of life seemed diminished.

"I don't think we should be saying to people: you've got to retire at 65," Mr Goyder said.

The Abbott Government yesterday ruled out lifting the age for an age pension to 70.

Seniors advocates also rejected the proposal, saying there was no point doing so because businesses were unwilling to hire workers that old.

The commission advocates lifting the retirement age in line with gains in life expectancy as one way to help the nation and governments cope with the ageing population.

The commission wants equity release programs so older people can tap into the values of their homes to co-fund their health and care costs. It says taxes need to rise 21 per cent to help pay for higher health and aged care costs.

Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan said raising the pension age should be considered only when bosses stopped discriminating against older workers.

The West Australian

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