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Working until 67 – the debate

By Jake Beleski

[email protected]

National’s plan to raise the age of eligibility for New Zealand’s superannuation scheme from 65 to 67 has been varyingly described as predictable, inevitable, and a flip flop by the region’s politicians.

If approved, the changes would be phased in from July 2037, with the age increasing by six months twice a year until July 2040.

John Hart, Green Party candidate for Wairarapa, said it was going to be tough for certain demographics to work those extra two years.

“You’ve got this generation who are the first to pay for student loans and university education, and no one can afford to buy a house, and by the way now you get to work two more years.”

He said he was one of the unlucky ones due to his birth date.

“I’m born in 1972 in August, so I’m basically about three months inside the capture period.

“I’m not sure what that means, but I guess it means my retirement just got pushed out by a little bit.”

The announcement was a way for the government to “try and be seen doing something”, while kicking the can further down the road, he said.

“They’ve set a long target for someone else to deal with basically.”

Mr Hart said it was important to be able to have a conversation about it as a country, but suggested debate in the media would not allow that mature conversation to take place.

Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott (National), said he did not expect the announcement to influence voters due to Wairarapa having “quite an elderly electorate”.

“Most people under 45 wouldn’t expect to receive superannuation at 65 – they understand a change is inevitable.”

He said people were fitter and healthier than previous generations, which meant they were living longer, and for those who weren’t there would always be support.

Wairarapa’s Labour candidate Kieran McAnulty said the move was a flip flop by the government that was entirely avoidable.

“The last Labour government established the New Zealand superannuation fund to help pay for the increasing costs of superannuation.

“National stopped contributing to that fund when elected to government, opting instead for tax cuts for higher wage earners.”

The one thing Prime Minister Bill English could do to give Wairarapa workers and working families a sense of comfort was to resume contributions to the fund, which was now about $20 billion short thanks to National’s freeze, he said.

Mr McAnulty stressed it was his generation which, unlike the one before it, had to pay for tertiary study and were now struggling to purchase a home or farm, that would be affected the most.

Labour’s policy was very clear, he said.

“The next Labour government will keep the age of entitlement at 65 and we will re-start contributions to the New Zealand superannuation fund.”

Former Carterton mayor and current New Zealand First deputy leader, Ron Mark, was equally sceptical of National and Labour’s intentions.

“Labour last year was touting the very same policy.

“It’s like Pepsi and Coke . . . one has a blue wrapper, one has a red wrapper, but you pour them both into separate glasses and hide the wrappers and nobody can tell the difference.

“Neither can be trusted.”

Mr Mark also said the effect on war veterans’ pensions was something National had yet to discuss.

“I think it’s a breach of contract between the government and war veterans – they’ve just asked to be treated fairly.”

Focussing on exports and creating jobs would be a better starting point to combatting the country’s economic issues, he said.

Farming is a career which can take a physical toll over a period of time, and president of Federated Farmers Wairarapa, Jamie Falloon, said the prime minister was “brave” to raise a discussion.

“There’s been a lot of talk about it – it’s definitely something that needed to be looked at.”

He said for those in physical labour jobs, working an extra couple of years could make quite a difference in terms of their life satisfaction, although ultimately it was hard to judge.

“It’s still a long way away, so it’s hard to say just what impact it will have.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Good to see you refer to an entitlement age not a retirement age that the Prime Minister referred to is Bill a bit confused by it all?

Comments are closed.

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