Australian pensioners living below the ‘poverty line’

AUSTRALIA has been rated as having the second lowest age pension out of 33 developed nations in a recent report.

The OECD report also showed the Federal Government spent only 3.5% of Australia's gross domestic product on the pension - or less than half the OECD average of 7.9%.

Australia was ranked second last on "social equity", with 36% of the nation's two million pensioners living on about half the nation's average wage.

Single pensioners get about $22,000 and couples $34,000 - compared to an average wage of $79,000.

The report also highlighted the low pensions, despite a big discrepancy between the $79,000 average Australian wage and the $48,000 OECD average.

It comes amid a series of inquiries related to superannuation and retirement incomes, including a Senate probe underway into the financial stability of older women.

OECD Secretary-General Jose Angel Gurria said there was now a "growing risk in some countries that future pensions will not be sufficient".

He said the long-term question for all nations was to create retirement income policies that "are flexible enough to adapt to the uncertainties of tomorrow's world of work, while ensuring adequate living standards for retirees".

The report follows calls for a wide-ranging inquiry into retirement incomes.

Those calls from seniors lobby groups were also backed by the head of the Federal Government's financial systems inquiry and former Commonwealth Bank chief David Murray, mid-last year.

The Government began a review of the efficiency of the superannuation system late last year and Council on the Ageing's Ian Yates repeated his call for the inquiry of two years ago.

Mr Yates said if the Government had taken action at the time on a retirement incomes review, "it would have been finalised by now and we could have been implementing a more effective, fair and sustainable retirement income system".

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