Wealthy retirees get millions in benefits

Sydney – AAP  Multi-millionaire retirees are reportedly receiving about $500 million a year in federal government handouts, sparking questions about the fairness of Australia’s welfare and retirement programs.

News Corp reports that a National Centre of Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) study shows about 260,000 Australian households have a net worth of more than $3 million, but are receiving $800m a year in welfare payments and more than $6 billion a year in benefits such as healthcare and education services.

Within the group of households worth more than $3m, NATSEM found those of pension age received about $3700 annually in cash payments compared to $2800 for the rest.

The government’s new Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Kelly O’Dwyer, says this compares to the lowest 20 per cent of households receiving $2.50 from the government for every $1 in income and consumption taxes they paid.

She called for a better understanding of and discussion on fairness, citing the age pension eligibility test, which allows couples to have financial assets up to $1.3m and excludes the value of the family home.

Sinclair Davidson, a research fellow at the free-market Institute of Public Affairs, said means testing should be tightened considerably for people earning more than $80,000 a year.

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