Last Word… Paul Rea

September 2016

New Zealand Seniors Party chair PAUL REA says it’s time for New Zealand to rethink its current pension scheme to deliver a fair deal for older Kiwis.

 

Paul ReaAfter more than 50 years of work, the time finally arrives for you to retire and you anticipate enjoying the rest of your life doing the things you always wanted to do but never had the time. Then it suddenly hits you, gone is the big weekly pay cheque, only to be replaced by the New Zealand super paid out once a fortnight. You now find you have to survive on a meagre $17,458.48 per annum before tax – what an absolute shock to the system.

This pension is far from that promised by the late PM Sir Rob Muldoon, who offered ALL
New Zealanders a FREE pension to get the National party re-elected in 1975. Muldoon abolished the Labour compulsory scheme instigated by Norman Kirk and promised us we would receive 80 per cent of the average national wage. To date that promise has not been kept and the current rate is around 33 per cent of the average national wage – a long way from that promised 80 per cent.

Had the compulsory scheme still been in existence, with both employer and employee contributing, New Zealand would have
many billions of dollars in this fund and would be able to pay pensioners a ‘living wage’ as promised.

Since its inception, the retirement age has risen from 60 to 65, with many expecting it to rise even further to 67, similar to Australia, as the number of pensioners increases and the pressure grows on our economy.

A proactive solution

There’s no doubt that something has to be done to prevent a catastrophic blowout and that time is drawing nearer.

The New Zealand Seniors Party was formed because successive governments have stopped listening to older people and perceive us all as ‘old fogies’, forgetting that we bring a lifetime of experience and knowledge to the table. They also seem to forget that seniors alive today fought to give all New Zealanders the freedoms they currently enjoy and it was our generation who helped to build this country.

The New Zealand Seniors Party has a proactive solution: amend the current pension system to a pro rata system that will create a level playing field, with the eligibility for receiving a pension extended to working for 30–35 years, with a minimum period of 10 years as a resident before receiving a percentage of the full pension.

There has also been a lot said about Section 70 of the Social Security Act concerning those immigrants who are entitled to overseas pensions and have them deducted from their Kiwi pensions. The Government has labelled them ‘double dippers’ but, if adopted, this pro rata system would do away with this once and for all and bring New Zealand in line with most other OECD countries.

Should a person then qualify for a full New Zealand pension (having worked for 30–35 years depending on the period adopted) and also be entitled to an overseas pension, they should receive both, having worked, qualified and contributed in both countries. Pensions should be means tested.

We would also like to see compulsory superannuation reintroduced to provide for future generations similar to the super scheme currently operating in Australia. KiwiSaver, although good, will not provide future generations with sufficient funds to live on as it is a voluntary, not compulsory, scheme.

We find ourselves at a crossroads, with a choice of either continuing down the slippery slope we are currently on or taking a proactive approach and introducing a universal system, whereby future generations can retire in the knowledge that they have sufficient funds to enjoy, not endure, their retirement.

New Zealand Seniors Party policies address many of the issues currently affecting New Zealanders. These include non-negotiable policies for a living wage for seniors and the removal of GST from medical services and supplies.

We do not make rash promises as other parties do, using scare tactics to gain votes then not delivering on promises when elected.

We can only promise that, if elected, we will bring common sense back into government and work tirelessly to make New Zealand a country to be proud of once again.

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