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Australia's retirement income system to be reviewed

The federal government is to undertake a major review into the Age Pension, compulsory superannuation and voluntary savings.While the opposition Labor Party says it fears it could result in cuts to retirement incomes, Seniors advocates support the inquiry but say more needs to be done to ensure all Australians can retire comfortably.

The federal government is to undertake a major review into the Age Pension, compulsory superannuation and voluntary savings.

While the opposition Labor Party says it fears it could result in cuts to retirement incomes, Seniors advocates support the inquiry but say more needs to be done to ensure all Australians can retire comfortably.

For the first time in three decades, a major review of Australia's retirement income system is being undertaken.

It will look at the relationship between the age pension, compulsory superannuation and voluntary savings including home ownership.

A panel of independent experts will investigate exactly what's helping - or hurting - retirees.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg  says  the review will look at the existing system.

"There are three pillars to our retirement income system, there is the aged pension, there is voluntary savings and there is compulsory super and we need to understand how they interact together."

It will also look at how it will perform in the future as Australians live longer and the population ages.

Analysts predict a fall in home ownership of retirees - down from 75 per cent today to less than 60 per cent over the next 30 years.

"It will be very important in helping to determine future policy positions by creating a fact base of what is happening in this system, particularly as we have an ageing population, people are living longer and our superannuation bill is growing dramatically over time."

But Labor's Treasury spokesperson, Jim Chalmers has questioned the timing of the review.

"If the government was serious about this retirement incomes review they wouldn't have dropped it out on the eve of Grand Final weekend hoping nobody would notice."

He also criticised the government's record.

"The extremists on the Liberal Party backbench call the shots in the Morrison government.  They want the family home in a pension asset test, they want superannuation to be cut, they want superannuation to be voluntary.  The government has a lot of form itself when it comes to cutting pensions and attacking super."

The government says it will not include the family home in the age pension assets test and is also assuring Australians the pension age won't be lifted to 70.

Mr Frydenberg also says the rise of the compulsory superannuation savings rate will go ahead - from 9 and a half to 12 per cent by 2025.

People SBS talked to had mixed views.

"I think 12% is good because we're going to have more support when we're getting older / This government is not interested in superannuation, it sort of feels the responsibility is on you to save / I'm a self-funded retiree so I hope they don't cut anything."

Retiree advocates say an overhaul of the system is long-overdue.

National Seniors Australia spokesman Craig Sullivan says advocates want the review to address income inequality.

"We just want this to be a worthwhile review. We don't want this to be a review for the sake of a review. We want this to be a real opportunity, a once in a lifetime opportunity to address the inadequancies that are in retirement income, particularly pension poverty. 1 in 4 pensioners live in poverty in Australia -- and that is quite a disgrace for a developed country such as Australia."

A consultation paper will be released in November with a final report due by June next year.

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