Pensioners returning to work could be one solution to help manage labour shortages, especially in regional areas, according to a Nationals SA candidate.
The sole SA Nationals candidate Jonathan Pietzsch, standing for the seat of Barker, has called on a returned Coalition government to allow pensioners to work without the threat of losing their pension.
He said a national seniors sruvey showed one in five pensioners wished to continue working, but only 2.9 per cent were.
He said this meant that Australia was missing out on hundreds of thousands of keen and skilled workers, which had a flow on effect to the economy.
"Here we have the perfect opportunity to solve critical issues with one small tweak of the law, which will be a boon to a key sector of the community, as well as improving the economy, especially in regional areas," Mr Pietzsch said.
Under existing laws, the first $300 of fortnightly income from work is not assessed and is not counted under the pension income test, while eligible pensioners can earn $180 from work before it affects their pension rate.
A single pensioner over age pension age, with no other private income, can earn up to $480 ($300 + $180) a fortnight from work and still receive the maximum rate of pension.
Beyond this amount, the aged pension is reduced by 0.50 cents for every dollar earned, in addition to paying income tax at the Schedule 9 income tax rate.
Mr Pietzsch said there were real advantages to allowing interested people to work, including building resilience into local and regional economies, providing stability to the agricultural sector and saving on reporting requirements to Centrelink.
He said waiving visa fees for overseas students and 'backpacker' visas and increasing allowable working hours for students, along with bringing in labour from the South Pacific, had not solved the problems and these programs cannot.
"Increasing the Pensioner Work Bonus in 2 levels, one for those working in the city, and another for those wishing to work in regional areas where the worker shortage is even more critical, is a viable way to address our immediate labour shortage and will pump billions back into the economy - it truly is a win/win/win," Mr Pietzsch said.
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