8 Dec 2010

PM chided over refusal to debate superannuation age

8:01 pm on 8 December 2010

Business New Zealand has chided Prime Minister John Key for refusing to debate the age of eligibility for national superannuation.

Chief executive Phil O'Reilly says he fears Mr Key is scaring off other politicians and making the whole subject off-limits.

The Retirement Commission is recommending that the retirement age be increased to make sure the scheme remains affordable.

The review says the age could be gradually increased from 65 years starting in 2020, and would rise by two months per year until it reaches 67 years in 2033.

Mr Key is standing by his earlier refusal to consider major changes, saying he has ruled them out and a change is not needed.

But Mr O'Reilly thinks this is not good enough.

"Simply saying: 'We don't need to change, we're not going to change, not on my watch' - I don't think that's particularly effective.

"We've had the Prime Minister saying he's just simply not going to change it while he's prime minister - I think that's unfortunate, because we seem to be able to debate most other policy issues and not this one.

"That, I think, leads to other politicians saying: 'Well, we won't change it either'".

Mr Key says other people can debate the problem of superannuation if they want, but he has already decided what to do.

"I've ruled it out, but it doesn't mean someone in the future can't do it. I can't control future prime ministers and future parliaments.

"There is a conversation going on; that's why the Retirement Commissioner has released their report and New Zealanders are free to debate it, any political party is free to have their view on it.

"My view is at this point, it doesn't need to change."