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Fem a poster girl for Joe Hockey’s plan to keep people in the workforce

LOVE MY WORK: Fem Hawke, who is almost 70, says she wants to keep working for as long as possible. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0306sgfem1FEM Hawke, 69, has been working for 53 years and says she can’t envisage a time when she won’t be going to work.
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“I just absolutely love work and I always have,” she said.

Mrs Hawke, who could perhaps be a role model for Treasurer Joe Hockey’s plan to keep people in the workforce for longer, started work fresh out of school at the age of 17 and for 10 years worked at CBN Channel 8 before starting her own giftware business in Sale Street.

“I enjoy the stimulation of conversation and the friendships you make through working and even today I still love retail,” she said.

Even after selling the business belonging to herself and her husband Courtney to their daughter, Mrs Hawke has maintained an active interest.

“You do get tired when you are working in retail,” she said.

Mrs Hawke said while she wanted to keep on working as long as she could, she and her husband always had a retirement plan.

“Courtney did have a succession plan in place for when I turned 60 and even though I just love coming into work the reality is that it is physically very tiring,” she said.

Mrs Hawke said, however, she didn’t know if Mr Hockey’s plan for working longer in the future would be feasible for manual workers.

“I have seen some of the men working on the site behind us at the business and they work incredibly hard on a physical level,” she said.

“Some of them are not all that young and I imagine it would be difficult to maintain that level as you get older.”

Mrs Hawke appreciates there are many more challenges for business owners today compared to the time she opened her gift store in the 1970s.

“These days for people who own a business, not only do they have to work hard all day, when they come home at night they have all the pressures of compliance such as keeping up with their business activity statements – it makes for a very long working day,” she said.

At 81, George White said he too enjoyed the social contact that came from going to work every day.

“I started work when I was 17 on my father’s orchard – mind you I didn’t get paid for two years so I moved into driving trucks which I have done for 63 years,” he said.

“I just can’t sit at home and do nothing – I would go stupid.”

Mr White has slowed down a little lately as the result of a cataract operation and chemotherapy for six months, but he said he was raring to go again and only had a few days off work, with his sons helping him in his part-time cardboard collection business.

“I just love being out and about meeting people,” he said.

Mr White doesn’t think Mr Hockey’s new intergenerational plan will be popular in some quarters.

“There are some bludgers out there who don’t want to work but just want the dole, so they are not going to be happy,” he said.

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