Election 2011 Policies

Policy topics

All currently elected political parties were sent questions.

Responses are ordered by party vote in the 2008 election.

The New Zealand National Party declined to answer any questions.

Economy

The questions we asked

  • Pension Age
    In the past few years most OECD countries have raised the age of eligibility for universal pensions. Will it be necessary for New Zealand to raise the age at some point? If so, when would you propose this occur?
  • Foreign Indebtedness
    New Zealand's foreign indebtedness has been described as the country's Achilles heel and our banks' reliance on foreign funds has barely reduced since the global financial crisis. Does your party see it as a priority to reduce this reliance on foreign creditors and if so, how would you achieve it?
  • Economic Diversification
    Economic growth has been powered by agriculture over the past three years. Non-food manufacturing has declined 7% over the same period. Is it a priority for your party to do more to diversify the NZ economy and how would you achieve that?

Background information

Responses from parties in parliament

In the past few years most OECD countries have raised the age of eligibility for universal pensions. Will it be necessary for New Zealand to raise the age at some point? If so, when would you propose this occur?

National

Declined to answer this question.

Labour

Our population is ageing. Over the next 40 years the number of people aged 65 and over more than doubles from 550,000 to 1.35 million. At the same time we are living longer and the number of young New Zealanders supporting those in retirement is set to halve. This means NZ Super will become unaffordable. We can’t avoid this problem. If we don’t deal with this today, it’ll be forced on us in the future. Labour’s savings policy will give all Kiwis a secure retirement by creating a universal savings scheme, guaranteeing NZ Super for future generations and preparing the country for the financial impact of our ageing population. This includes gradually increasing the age of eligibility for New Zealand Super from 65 to 67 from 2020 over a 12 year period. This will give those who will be affected time to plan. Nothing will change for those aged 57 or over. For those currently aged 46 to 56 the age will of eligibility will rise by two months a year starting in 2020. Kiwis born in 1966 or later will be eligible for NZ Super at 67. Taking the tough decisions today will secure NZ Super for this generation and the next.

Green

The Green Party would maintain the current entitlement age for New Zealand Superannuation. However, we are open to there being a national discussion around how we best provide superannuation and how we best look after older New Zealanders.

ACT

Has not yet answered this question.

Maori

Has not yet answered this question.

United Future

No, UnitedFuture will give people the option of choosing to receive New Zealand Superannuation at a reduced rate from the age of 60, or at an enhanced rate from the age of 70, if they delay uptake till that time.

Mana

No it’s not necessary to raise the age. We should be working to reduce the age for everyone but particularly for Maori and low-income New Zealanders who die much younger than the better off.

New Zealand's foreign indebtedness has been described as the country's Achilles heel and our banks' reliance on foreign funds has barely reduced since the global financial crisis. Does your party see it as a priority to reduce this reliance on foreign creditors and if so, how would you achieve it?

National

Declined to answer this question.

Labour

Since National came to office, the government’s net overseas debt has tripled. Labour’s fully-costed fiscal plan sees the government back in surplus by 2014/15 and eliminates net government debt by 2021. Private overseas debt is also too high. Labour’s capital gains tax will redirect investment away from property speculation and into productive enterprises.

Green

Yes, we see this as a priority. Our high level of foreign indebtedness represents a vulnerability to further economic shocks. We would implement reforms in our tax system, banking sector, capital markets and the Kiwisaver scheme to facilitate a transition to a stronger, more productive, savings-based economy. We would introduce a comprehensive tax on capital gains (excluding the family home). We see this as the fairest, most effective way to encourage private saving and strengthen the Government's books. The lack of competition in our banking sector contributes significantly to our economic imbalances. Four Australian-owned banks control 95% of our banking sector, and send on average $2 billion of their profits offshore each year. The Green Party will build up Kiwibank, to a level where it can compete with the ‘big four’. As part of this, we’ll progressively shift the Government’s banking back to a New Zealand-owned bank. We will empower the Reserve Bank with tools to manage monetary policy, our exchange rate, future asset bubbles, and our exposure to international borrowing. We would retain state-owned assets in public ownership. For our state-owned energy companies, we’d shift their focus from the domestic market to the huge potential in the renewable energy markets abroad, incentivising them to collaborate with private sector entrepreneurs to spin-off new clean technology export companies. We will investigate changes to Kiwisaver to increase private savings. We will look at automatic enrolment in Kiwisaver (with an opt-out option), and explore giving people the ability to choose a default ‘Public Option’ for their Kiwisaver provider. This would allow them to invest in the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and save substantially on fees over the life of their investment.

ACT

Has not yet answered this question.

Maori

Has not yet answered this question.

United Future

Yes, through greater savings (compulsory Kiwisaver, better financial literacy education, public spending efficiency etc.).

Mana

Most of this indebtedness is with the private sector but the public sector must reduce dependence on foreign funds. Right now we are borrowing to pay for the massive tax cuts for wealthy New Zealanders passed by Labour and National in recent years. Mana would radically rebalance our economy to reduce reliance of foreign funds by implementing a financial transactions tax; a proper capital gains tax (ALL a person’s income from all sources to be accrued and taxed at their personal tax rate); reintroducing inheritance taxation and adopting a more steeply progressive tax structure.

Economic growth has been powered by agriculture over the past three years. Non-food manufacturing has declined 7% over the same period. Is it a priority for your party to do more to diversify the NZ economy and how would you achieve that?

National

Declined to answer this question.

Labour

International evidence shows that well-designed R&D tax credits increase productivity and growth. Labour will restore the R&D tax credit, which National cut. Labour’s full economic development policy will be released closer to the election.

Green

We need to shift our economy onto a more sustainable, low-carbon footing in order to compete in an increasingly green global market. The Green Party has a credible, costed plan to create 100,000 new green jobs – diversifying and adding resilience to our economy whilst protecting our environment. We would lead the change through direct Government investment, extending the Heat Smart home insulation scheme to a further 200,000 homes over three years. We will facilitate our publicly-owned energy companies becoming large-scale exporters of renewable energy technology. Our plan will keep them in public ownership, ensuring that their profits, headquarters, and research and development stay in New Zealand. We will create the right incentives for our energy companies to partner with renewable energy entrepreneurs in the private sector. If we can capture just 1% of the global market for renewable energy solutions, we’ll create a $6 to $8 billion export industry employing 47,000–65,000 people in new green jobs. We will set in place the drivers for private sector green job creation. Through a mix of government procurement policies, tax incentives, start-up funding, and a $1 billion boost to R&D funding, we’ll support small and medium-sized enterprises to step up and drive new job creation in the clean technology sector.

ACT

Has not yet answered this question.

Maori

Has not yet answered this question.

United Future

The current construct of our economy is broadly the right one.

Mana

New Zealand needs to become a much more self-reliant economy. In a world where transport costs will increase steeply in coming years (peak oil) and environmental catastrophe looms we can’t rely on sending large-carbon-footprint goods to the other side of the world cheaply and competitively. The same applies to imports which will become more costly as well as increasing damage to the environment.

We need to redevelop our productive industries to “import-substitute” for the things we don’t make or have forgotten how to make. This will need changes to the so-called “free trade” policies followed by successive Labour and National governments.

Background Information