David Chaplin 's Opinion

A personal finance columnist for the NZ Herald

Inside Money: Retirement outcomes - Australia jumps five years ahead of NZ

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Australia is about to jump five years ahead of New Zealand when it comes to eligibility for a pension. Photo / Thinkstock
Australia is about to jump five years ahead of New Zealand when it comes to eligibility for a pension. Photo / Thinkstock

As previously flagged the Australian government will attempt to raise the official state pension eligibility age in its forthcoming budget.

According to Australian Treasurer, Joe Hockey, an imminent "fiscal crisis" has forced the issue: 70 will become the new 65.

Australia is already on track to raise the government pension access age to 67 by 2023 but Hockey wants to lift it to 70 by 2035 - about 20 years earlier than previously mooted.

Those who want to retire earlier than the rising pension age will have to pull their belts in or rely on savings, most of which would have been accumulated via Australia's compulsory superannuation system.

(Incidentally, the Australian government is also tipped to increase the age when citizens can access their super savings from the current 55-60 to a level pegged five years under the pension age.)

There are several implications here for New Zealand. Firstly, a compulsory retirement savings system will inevitably be used as an excuse to tinker with the government pension - which was explicit in the Australian case. Labour may insist its compulsory KiwiSaver plan won't affect the universal state pension but it can make no guarantee here: it was a Labor government that introduced compulsory super in Australia and a Liberal government that is now using it to ramp up the pension age.

(And on compulsory KiwiSaver, why does Labour insist on doing all the sales and marketing for the funds management industry? They are not natural allies.)

As Australia raises its pension age there may also be arbitrage opportunities for the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders living there. Why not just shoot back home when you turn 65? There may be a nice state pension there waiting for you ; unless the rules change.

David Chaplin

A personal finance columnist for the NZ Herald

David is a freelance journalist who has covered the financial services business on both sides of the Tasman for over 15 years. David has edited magazines and websites for the financial advice, investment and superannuation industries. Today, he contributes to various publications in Australia as well as his bi-weekly blog for the NZ Herald under the 'Inside Money' banner.

Read more by David Chaplin

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