Tuesday, 30 June, 2015


At the Hunter Research Foundation, we have been innovating to offer more relevant information more often to provide insight into our Region. This month we’re excited to announce the inaugural HUNTERcurrents, measuring the mood and opinion of Hunter residents on hot topics.

With an increasingly ageing population and issues like retirement age and pensions facing legislative changes at the federal government level, retirement is the first topic under the microscope.

Earlier this year Treasurer Joe Hockey suggested that someone living today might live to 150 years and that therefore, Australians should accept that the government would need to reduce benefits. Of 100 people interviewed, only five answered that they felt they could live to 150 years. None of the respondents who opted for a lower life expectancy came close to 150: nine per cent hoped for 100, 29 per cent for 90 and 14 per cent each opted for 80 and 85.

When asked if the Age Pension should be an entitlement for all Australians or only a safety-net for those unable or unwilling to save, opinion was split. While over half thought it should only be a safety net, a solid 37 per cent considered it a benefit all Australians should be entitled to.

Keeping with the Age Pension, while most said that it is fair that the family home is always exempted from pension asset tests, even when it is worth a lot of money (54 per cent), a larger majority (66 per cent) felt that it was unfair for those who have $1 million in assets, not counting the family home, to receive a part pension. The government has now reduced pensions for more wealthy pensioners.

Of all the questions asked, the one that received the widest consensus was around superannuation for women. Currently women receive super payouts that are on average 40 per cent lower than male payments. With this in mind, 85 per cent of Hunter residents agreed that the action some companies have taken of paying women higher superannuation contributions in recognition of their role as primary care-givers and the impact this role has on their financial security, is a good idea.

Keep an eye on our monthly news to hear more about the ebb and flow of regional opinion from our HUNTERcurrents series.

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