Farmers urge tax break for pensioners to unleash gray army of fruit pickers – Michmutters

Farmers urge tax break for pensioners to unleash gray army of fruit pickers

Pensioners in New Zealand can work without affecting their income and 25 per cent of them earned income from paid work, compared to just 3 per cent in Australia. A parliamentary briefing prepared for the Morrison government found an extra 445,000 people could enter the workforce if tax on pensioners’ earnings was cut.

Under current rules, a single person can earn up to $480 a fortnight without affecting their pension entitlement. When a pensioner earns more than that, their pension is reduced at 50¢ for every dollar in income, or an effective marginal tax rate of 50 per cent. That rate climbs above 60¢ in the dollar as income tax thresholds start to affect their pay.

National Seniors spokesman Craig Feldman said cutting the tax on pensioners’ earnings “would be a great incentive” to get more people into the workforce.

“We surveyed about 3000 of our members, which is a pretty good sample and 20 per cent of them came back to us and said yes, we would actually consider going back into the workforce,” Feldman said.

“They need the money. The pension is not exactly a good way of getting through the cost of living crisis, particularly now with higher oil prices and higher grocery prices.”

Goulburn Valley fruit grower Peter Hall welcomed the push to encourage more pensioners to work in the agriculture sector.


“Sometimes they make the best workers because they’re used to working,” he said. “They’re a bit because they want to supplement their income that might be a bit modestly motivated.”

Hall said some older workers were experienced in operating machinery, which would allow them to fill some roles on farms beyond fruit picking.

“The freer the access to people who want to work in our industry the better. It’s already a pretty tight market.”

Cherry Hill Orchards owner Stephen Riseborough said he would also welcome pensioners working across his three orchards, but he said the industry was still grappling with the absence of backpackers.

“I don’t know how many pensioners realistically want to go out there and pick fruit,” he said.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said he expected this issue to be raised at the government’s Jobs and Skills Summit in September.

“We listen respectfully to anybody who’s got ideas about how we can deal with the challenges in our economy,” Chalmers said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *