Budget 2014: Pension age hike protest

Making a point: Bobby Turner's picture has been shared more than 64,000 times on Facebook.

Making a point: Bobby Turner's picture has been shared more than 64,000 times on Facebook.

A Port Kembla septuagenarian's appearance on social media to protest hikes to the pension age has gone viral.

In the lead-up to Tuesday's budget announcement, a photograph appeared on Throsby MP Stephen Jones's Facebook page of Bobby Turner, 78, posing with a sign.

"Only a bloke who's worked in an office his whole life would think you can work until you're 70!" it read.

The image has been shared more than 64,000 times and "liked" by more than 116,000 people. It has attracted 3850 comments.

Mr Turner, who is Port Kembla ALP branch president, believed his sign tapped into anxiety among people concerned about being robbed of their retirement - particularly those who had worked in physically demanding roles.

"If you work until you're 70 and drop dead when you're 71, you've worked for nothin', haven't you?" Mr Turner told the Mercury.

"I've lived in my house for 30 years. The neighbours used to go running or walking their dogs, now I see them walking along, hobbling. It doesn't take long once you hit that 70 to go downhill."

As a young man, Mr Turner cut sugar cane, dug ditches and worked on Port Kembla's No 4 blast furnace. He worked as a merchant seaman for 29 years until 1997, when a family illness drove him into retirement at 60, five years earlier than intended.

The experience showed him that narrow window that can exist between the end of working life and the onset of illness or mobility problems. He has since had several operations, including a knee replacement, and said he could not fathom having stayed at sea another 10 years.

"The ship is constantly rolling, so you're working your knees all the time," he said. "My legs wouldn't have stood up to that."

Tuesday's announcement confirmed the pension age - currently 65 - will rise to 70 from July 1, 2053.

This means a pension age of 70 for anyone born after 1965. The change will be phased in, with those born between July 1, 1952, and December 31, 1953 to have an age pension age of 65.5. The wait will then rise progressively.


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