Changes are needed to ensure the age pension can be funded for the long term, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss says.
Mr Truss and other senior ministers are putting the finishing touches to the federal budget due to be delivered on May 13.
He told the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday spending on the age pension took up 10 per cent of all federal spending – $40 billion this year and due to rise to $72 billion over the decade.
Demand for the pension is set to rise as the population ages.
“People, quite rightly, work their entire lives with the expectation that the age pension is there at the end of their working lives as a safety net,” Mr Truss said.
“We have to make sure that safety net is secure, taut and capable of catching the people who need it.”
Mr Truss also challenged Labor to back the $1.75 billion Roads to Recovery program in the Senate.
“If this legislation does not pass the Senate by June 30 this year, that $1.75 billion, which Australia’s 565 local councils depend on for their roads and streets will be road kill,” Mr Truss said.
The Nationals leader said some people who had $1 million in the bank received a part-pension and a health-care card.
The government was taking the approach of only those who require the pension should receive it, he said.
Mr Truss hinted that the diesel fuel rebate for farmers would not be abolished or scaled back in the May budget.
Australia’s export competitors had subsidised fuel and local farm fuel had been free of excise for a long time.
“That’s the way we would like to keep it,” Mr Truss said.