Pension age rise: 'I'm not far off a hip replacement'

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A 67-year-old retired Port Kembla wharfie has criticised the federal government's indication of an increased retirement age, to 70.

John Beatty, who moved to Thailand, said he had been affected by years of manual labour and could not have continued working beyond his retirement.

Treasurer Joe Hockey, aged 48, said on Sunday that Australians might have to work for longer because an ageing population would seriously stress future budgets.

Labor introduced changes in 2009 that will raise the pension age from 65 to 67 between 2017 and 2023.

"It may be the case that my generation has to work for an extra three years," Mr Hockey said.

The comments signalled a potential rise in the pension age to 70 in the May budget.

Mr Hockey said it would hold out the prospect of future governments not being able to afford medicine for sick children.

But Mr Beatty, who worked as a wharfie for 47 years, said he retired when he was a little over 65 due to the toll his work had taken on his physical well-being.

"When I started, it was up and down ladders all day and there was the manual work of carrying bags of flour, wheat, lifting bales of wool and other lifting work," he said.

"[Now] I'm not far off probably having to get a hip replacement. My right hip is playing up but the doctor said to persevere as long as I can."

Mr Beatty's last job before retirement was driving a straddle truck that lifted heavy containers.

He doubted he could have continued the job into his late 60s.

"The strain on your neck and lower back - even a young man gets out walking like he's a question mark," he said.

Opposition finance spokesman Tony Burke also criticised a shift in the retirement age.

He said blue-collar workers would be hardest hit if they were forced to work longer.

The Abbott government would breach a pre-election promise if they raised the pension age, Mr Burke said.

However, when asked to provide the opposition's solution to the problem, Mr Burke said it was not for Labor to provide an alternative as it awaited the government's first budget.

Mr Hockey called for the discussion to focus on funding Australians' future quality of life, especially as life expectancy continued to grow.

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