Andrew McKellar interview with Lisa Millar, News Breakfast, ABC TV

08 Dec 2021 |

Event: Andrew McKellar interview with Lisa Millar, News Breakfast, ABC TV
Speakers: Lisa Millar, co-host News Breakfast; Andrew McKellar, chief executive Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Date: 8 December 2021
Topics: Aged pension income threshold increase, skills and training, skill and labour shortages, international reopening.


Lisa Millar, co-host News Breakfast: Well, we’ve heard a lot about the skills shortage in Australia and today the chambers of commerce around the country have come up with one possible solution. They want the treasurer to change the rules, so pensioners can work more without affecting their payments. Andrew Mackellar is the chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He joins us now from Canberra. Good morning, Andrew, what kind of difference would this make?

Andrew McKellar, chief executive Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry: Good morning, Lisa. Look, we think this is an excellent way to encourage people who’ve retired on the pension to come back into the workforce. So if you can increase that income free threshold at the moment capped at $480 a fortnight, once you start to get above that level, it really becomes a severe disincentive for people to come back into the workforce. But we know there are many tens of thousands of people who are on the pension and who would think about coming back in, working two or three days a week. And at a time when we have severe labour shortages, this would be a great contribution.

Lisa: What’s been stopping government allowing this?

Andrew: I think here we’ve just got to have the debate. There are many ideas that can come forward. The great thing here is that all of the state and territory and the national chamber of commerce have come together on this particular issue to say, look, here’s a very good idea. It’s something that we believe really doesn’t cost the budget anything, that these people are on the pension anyway. In fact, we can come up with a very fair solution, a very equitable way to encourage people with great experience to come back into the workforce. And we really need that at this time.

Lisa: Well, Andrew, Queensland’s opening up. Lots of people needed in the hospitality sector. We’ve got December the 15th is the date before people can start coming back into Australia. There’s skilled workers, tourists, students. Is that moving quick enough to get people back into Australia?

Andrew: It’s an urgent situation. And obviously, we’ve been pushing now for some time to reopen the international borders. We believe we could do that safely. Obviously with the Omicron variant coming forward, we have agreed that it’s appropriate to pause until the 15th. Let’s see what the data says. Obviously, the health experts are getting access to that information now and over the coming days. As they have the chance to analyse that, then a decision can be taken. The signs I think are hopeful. And I think this will be a big boost to the Australian economy if we can start to fully reopen those international borders from that time.

Lisa: All right, Andrew McKellar, thanks for joining us this morning.

Andrew: Thank you.

Jack Quail

Media Adviser

P  |  0498 181 207

Want to hear more from us?

    NewsletterMedia Releases