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Hockey shows imagination in his statistics but not his vision

On page vii of the Executive summary of the Intergenerational Report it states that the life expectancies for men and women are “91.5 and 93.6 years today.”

However, the ABS figures released on  06/11/2014 say:

“Based on current mortality rates, a boy born in 2011-2013 can expect to live 80.1 years, while a girl can expect to live 84.3 years”

A spokesman for Mr Hockey, when asked about the discrepancy, said that it was due to using different methodology.  It was explained to me that they had used a cohort methodology which anticipated future changes like improvements in health and technology in the coming years, hence the higher figure.

That sounded fair enough though it did seem a rather large difference just by using different methodologies so I rang the ABS and was directed to the following:

“The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) uses the cohort-component method for producing population projections.”

Hmmmm…it seems the ABS and Mr Hockey were both using the cohort methodology.  So I read further.

Under their best case scenario, male life expectancy would reach 92.1 years in 2060-61 and female life expectancy would reach 93.6 years, almost identical to what Hockey is using as today’s life expectancy.

If, as is perhaps more likely, life expectancy continues to increase but at a slower rate, male life expectancy at birth is expected to reach 85.2 years in 2060-61 and female life expectancy to reach 88.3 years.

The Intergenerational Report says that “in 2054-55, life expectancy at birth is projected to be 95.1 years for men and 96.6 years for women” an extra three years for both on the ABS higher prediction and six years earlier.

When estimating the resources we will need to cope with an aging population, the cumulative effect of adding ten years to current life expectancy and three years to projected life expectancy in 40 years is huge.

In April 2013, Tony Windsor said:

“If the package of technologies enabled by high-speed broadband can keep 5% of elderly people in their homes for just one extra year, Australia could save $60 billion over ten years on aged care facilities ($4 billion a year in bed operating costs and $20 billion in capital costs). These savings alone would more than pay for the NBN.”

Not only does this show how small changes can make a huge difference, it also shows what we should be investing in to help address the costs of our aging society.

We will certainly need more aged care facilities but investing in things that can keep people out of care, even for a year, will help not only the bottom line, but also contribute to the well-being and quality of life for our seniors.

The NBN is one thing that has the potential to do that.

We also need more community nurses and services like cleaning, gardening, home maintenance, grocery deliveries, transport and such, to support the elderly to stay in their own homes. Doctors on call to do home visits could reduce the burden on hospitals.

Increased respite care facilities to support carers would also be beneficial.  Their contribution to society should be recognised both for its selflessness and for how much it saves the government.

In the 2013-14 budget a trial was announced to provide an income and assets test exemption for pensioners over age pension age who ‘downsize’ their home.

The exemption was designed to help pensioners who want to move to a home that better suits their needs, but are concerned about the possible impact extra money in their bank account (after downsizing their home) may have on their pensions. Seniors over age pension age who have lived in and owned their home for more than 25 years, who then downsize to a home of lesser value, would be able to place at least 80 per cent of the excess sale proceeds (to a cap of $200,000) from the sale of their former home into a special account. This special account would be exempt from the pension income and assets tests for up to 10 years, or until a withdrawal was made from the account, whichever occurred first.

This was scrapped in the 2014-15 budget.

The government’s reaction to the costs of our aging population is to make us work longer, cut increases to the superannuation guarantee and aged pension, and make us pay more for health. All of these measures reduce our standard of living and long term prosperity.

An alternative, to improve the quality of life for seniors by proactively assisting them to remain in their homes for a year or two longer before going into care, has the potential to save more money than any of their backward savings measures.

And Mr Hockey, an honest mature national discussion is not helped by deliberately exaggerating the figures.

I would prefer some imagination in the solutions rather than the statistics.


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  1. Kerri

    The one thing I can comfortably predict is that if Abbott and Hockey are still at the helm after 2016 there will be a huge increase in the sucide rate!

  2. dwejevans

    So, we are living longer, but doesn’t that sort of depend on the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere? Probably the main concerns should be water and food, not coal, oil gas etc? Or is that just too simple for this idiotic p.m. and his alleged ‘government’?

  3. diannaart

    Absolutely, imagine if Hockey and his jolly band put as much thought and imagination into solutions for the problems facing Australia as they do into their obfuscations, twisting of truth and outright lies… but then, they would not be the Liberals.

    2016 referendum cannot arrive soon enough – very tempted to dig hole and stay there until this defining day.

  4. Kaye Lee

    “There is not a single mention of climate change in Hockey’s speech, or the report’s summary projections for revenue and expenditure. The full report offers less than two pages (out of 170) on the issue, and most of this is a weak summary of projected physical trends. In glossing over one of the most significant emerging challenges to Australia’s economy, the IGR presents a fiscal fiction.

    A review process intended to provide Australians, including policy makers, with guidance about possible emergent distant economic (and social and environmental) problems in order to provoke timely and reasonable discussion about how to tackle them, has yet again been captured by the usual small-minded, short-termist partisanship of Australia’s political elite.”

  5. diannaart

    …and another thing, I understand these Intergenerational Reports are released every 5 years. What will the authors of said report use if the ABS only conducts a census every 10 years? I do acknowledge that the ABS was not consulted for the 2015 report. Thing is, to fudge statistics one needs/must start with some statistics.

    It’s that imagination thing again innit?

  6. M-R

    Oh, wouldn’t we all, Kaye ?
    Delighted to be quoted something from my sole political hero; what is A. Windsor, Esq, doing these days ? – do we know ?

  7. Kaye Lee


    I hope he is enjoying family life on the farm. He is active on twitter. This shows what he is up to

  8. FreeThinker

    Yes, this vision-less government has a severe case of PIDS (Political Imagination Deficiency Syndrome).

  9. Fred Martin

    Hockey and Abbott are not able to think outside the square bounded by their far right ideology. Try to make any suggestion of alternative ways of looking at things or solving problems and they stick their fingers in their ears and chant 3 word slogans. Your suggestions are good Kaye Lee but, sadly, they don’t want to hear them.

  10. Kaye Lee

    Increases in life expectancy at all ages in the second half of the 20th century have been attributed to improving social conditions and advances in medical technology such as mass immunisation and antibiotics.

    The past two decades have seen further increases in life expectancy. These increases have been partly due to lower infant mortality, fewer young people dying in motor vehicle accidents, and fewer older men dying from heart disease. The reduction in deaths from heart disease has been linked to medical advances and behavioural changes such as improvements in diet and less smoking. The rapid increases cannot be expected to continue at the same rate let alone higher than the ABS predicts as Hockey is trying to tell us.

    In November last year, Treasury and ABS were reporting “By 2042, Australia can expect to have 1.1 million people over the age of 85, up from 300,000 over the past decade.”

    Hocket’s report says ” In 2054-55, it is projected that 4.9 per cent of the population, or nearly 2 million Australians, will be aged 85 and over.”

    Are we to believe that the number of people over 85 will almost double in 12 years from 2042 to 2054 or that someone is telling porkies?

  11. Kaye Lee


    But they said they wanted a mature honest national discussion and kept sneeringly saying “so what would YOU do…you’ve got nothing”.

    They have obviously been instructed in their talking points to attack Labor for not having alternative policies even though, in opposition, Abbott always said it was the government’s job to make policy and his job to oppose it.

    But we ALL know they don’t want suggestions or solutions. All they want to do is keep blaming Labor. Imagine if you replaced the board of a company because it was doing poorly and the new board kept asking the old board what they should do whilst blaming them for the worsening woes of the company. Half way through their term and they are still playing the blame game. Well if you don’t have any ideas on how to fix it without decimating the most vulnerable in our community then you shouldn’t have put your hand up for the job.

    I can cope with life’s ups and downs if I know the truth but lie to me and you lose not only my respect but also my vote.

  12. jimhaz

    I actually think the life expectancy age will peak by 2020, then start to decrease.

    Computers/mobiles (no exercise, but added stress), carbohydrates and sugar are killers. This is the sort of thing that will be kept quite in reports such as this.

  13. johnlward010

    When the Greiner Government was briefed regarding a longitudinal study on early retirement, (as an answer to youth unemployment) we public servants reported to them thus:

    If you retire at 55, you live to 84;
    If you retire at 60, you live to 72;
    Finally, if you retire at 65, you live to 67.

    John Fahey replied, “Good, let em die on the job”.
    That is why successive governments have consciously legislated to increase the retirement age.

    As you get older, you lose your good health, the longer you work the more damage to your skeletal system is evident in your joints. If you retire earlier, you will enjoy comparative continued good health for the few years left to enjoy.

    The LNP demonstrates a callous disregard for the well-being of their elders. In Particular, those in manual and trades work, on whom the principal burden of this policy will fall.

    These decisions seem to be at odds with recent trends of the ’obesity tsunami’ where large portions of the population will die out before retirement

    Joe Hockey claims we are “living” longer, then adds Co-Payments, and extra costs will act as a barrier to pensioner access to the Medical treatments that keep us alive longer.
    As the cost of fuel and food goes beyond the reach of folks, who need a car to get around. Their health will suffer and so will the stats, that hockey now relies on to justify forcing people to die at work before they reach pension eligibility. How cute is that?

    Working older workers to death is the real “Intergenerational theft.”

    John Ward

  14. Carol Taylor

    Jimhaz, this is a strong possibility, the obesity crisis is creating a surge in life-style caused diabetes therefore we cannot consider that with increasing poverty and a resultant increase in obesity due to a high consumption of high calorie but cheap food, that we won’t see life expectancy rates reverse.

    Also kept quiet in many reports is that the ‘average’ life expectancy also relates to much lower rates of infant and child mortality.

  15. stephentardrew

    We lack a visionary of the likes of Jules Verne who could see many of the technological changes of the future. One thing that is totally ignored in these arguments is exponential growth in technology and innovation when we once and forever stop this ridiculous trend of planned obsolescence which is just destroying resources. Could it be that much of the work in nursing homes will become automated while the general staff will be more concerned with quality of life and mental health issues.

    Conservatives act like nothing is going to change because they are primarily afraid of change. Rather than cheap robust alternatives capitalism drives the consumption of useless ego-inflating products that, in effect, are no more useful that their cheaper counterparts. While we are being convinced to buy $4,000 to $6,000 dollar HD TVs I recently picked up a $200 High Def TV for my office which works a gem. After a while people stop using the bells and whistles and just sit down and watch TV. There are so many possibilities, for example, renewable energy, low cost housing printed on the spot (Google The Venus Project) the fact that sophisticated virtual reality will reduce the need to travel oversees for holidays and so on. The Earth Institute at Cambridge University and MIT are two of many quietly planning for the alleviation of poverty and inequality. After going on holidays all we have left are memories and a few photos which can be demonstrated to diverge from the actual fact of the experience as memory reconfigure past experience. Sophisticated VR could make travel accessible to everyone and dramatically limit the continual need to fly to places, soon forgotten, only held in the memory of a few fading images shared, now and again, over the dinner table. What a waste. There may well be technological pharmaceutical solutions to health and obesity issues that will be cost effective. We must start thinking and stop reacting through fear..

    I could go on and on however the first twenty years of technological development in this century will be equivalent to the whole of the last century. Regressive habituated minds represent a fossilised past whereas change is going to radically transform societies in the not to distant future. It is not a matter of if but when. In the mean time it seems to be the goal of conservatives too punish those least able to help themselves while deriding the science, technology and innovative change that can save us from ourselves.

    In point of act conservatives don’t want you to be comfortable because that will undermine their elitist infatuated opinion of themselves.

    Conservatives are, in effect, dead women and men walking towards self-destruction.

    We need to fight and fight hard.

  16. diannaart

    Well said JohnLW

    People who have worked all their lives, paying taxes, are no longer perceived as entitled to some R&R. While a politician only has to work for 6 years and is >b>entitled to a very comfortable pension for life….

    What else would one expect from a government which indefinitely detains children in concentration camps, gives tax concessions to the wealthy, expects young people to live on fresh air for 6 months of the year (provided they qualify for Newstart, else they remain living on nothing), will spend billions on towing and tossing refugees into life-boats but carve billions from welfare of Australians, shuts down science research, subsidises private for profit schools, closes manufacturing industries – and effing lie about all of it!!!!!

  17. Graeme Henchel

    Hockey of the over blow

    The treasurer’s name was Hockey, a big buffoon quite stocky
    Though some had come to call him Smokin Joe
    Him and mate Mathias were barefaced blatant liars
    and had no idea of how to run the show

    Joe would break into a sweat as he lied about the debt
    and the “Age of entitlement as over”
    But he didn’t have the guts to tell the poor they’d get the cuts
    While he and all his mates still lived in clover

    He had a sham review with a hand picked right wing crew
    A strategy that had worked for them before
    Duly said the stacked committee, that things were not so pretty
    Then Joe’s promises were promises no more

    On the best day of his life, Joe was dancing with his wife
    before delivering a budget most unfair
    But Joe went much too far when he smoked a fat cigar
    and the stench of Hockey hubris filled the air

    Joe thought he’d pulled a swifty, but he quickly looked quite shifty
    as the cuts all clearly targeted the poor
    Sure they’d cut the carbon tax, but if you looked into the facts
    the poorest in the land were paying more

    Though he started out quite cocky things went pear shaped for Joe Hockey
    as the senate started blocking his key plans
    At first he tried to bluster, blowing hard as he could muster
    but the senate simply sat upon their hands

    With the budget really smelling, Joe tried to do some selling
    but his comments only served to make things worse
    “The poor don’t drive a car” said the man with the cigar
    as his tone became belligerent and terse

    As the public came apprised of Joe and the Thug’s lies
    the polls went into terminal decline
    Though the Thug took most the blame, it was often Hockey’s name
    that was mentioned in a sentence with “resign”

    After months of changing tune and with policies marooned
    the Thug’s fate started coming under question
    It was suddenly okay to negotiate away
    but the senate held their ground on the suggestion

    So Joe kept his head down, some were calling him a clown
    while the Thug talked of barnacle removal
    They announced some half arsed flips but before they’d left their lips
    they were met with more howls of disapproval

    So after 18 months of farce, Joe was out to save his arse
    Through pursed lips he said, he may have overblown
    Now as a last resort he’ll abuse the inter generational report
    but it won’t be enough for Hockey to atone

    Hockey’s fate is tightly tied to the Thug who always lied
    So the futures not too bright for Smokin Joe
    It now won’t be too long before the Thug is gone
    and takes with him “Hockey of the Over Blow”

  18. DanDark

    Thanks Graeme, I just luv a good smokin’ hot poem about the follies
    of toe tappin’ Joe and the smug, slug, mug oopps Thug….. 🙂

  19. Terry2

    So, after arguing that the changes to indexation of the pension would not affect or diminish pension payments into the future, the coalition have now been caught out by their own Intergenerational Report, showing that the value of the pension will be eroded from 28% of average weekly earnings today to 16% by 2055 .

    The major criticism within the coalition seems to be, that the report allowed out undoctored.

  20. Kaye Lee

    They are still arguing that there is “no real reduction in pensions” and Abbott simplistically says “Madame speaker madame speaker madame speaker….pensions will continue to go up twice a year”. What they fail to acknowledge is that, as the nation becomes more prosperous, the gap in comparative standard of living will grow. Intergenerational theft indeed as our retirees will be precluded from sharing in the fruits of their labour.

  21. Terry2

    Madame Speaker, Madame Speaker, the Prime Minister has mislead the House : that is a contempt of the Parliament – off with his head !

  22. Steve

    Graeme, would you mind if I shared your poem on Facebook? I think it’s brilliant!

  23. Graeme Henchel

    Please share steve. You might also like my latest

    Talk to the hand Tony
    Talk to the hand Joe
    We all stopped listening
    A long long time ago

    See this middle finger
    We’re all flipping you birds
    Directed at the LNP
    A pack of lying turds

    It’s not just the lies you’ve told
    or your verbal diarrhoea
    It’s also that it’s obvious
    you’ve got absolutely no idea

    Forget a conversation
    We remember Dr No
    No cuts and no excuses?
    What you reap, so you will sow

    Talk to the hand Tony
    Talk to the hand Joe
    We’ve all stopped listening
    Time for you to go.

  24. diannaart

    Another rhyme to lift my spirits this Monday morning.

    Thank you Graeme.

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