26 May 2015

Little commits to non-means tested super at 65

1:42 pm on 26 May 2015

Labour Party leader Andrew Little says his party has no intention of introducing means-testing for superannuation.

Mr Little has moved to clarify his position after comments he made about the unfairness of the current super system.

He questioned the fairness wealthy people, or those who continue to work, being able to keep getting the pension.

"It doesn't look fair on its face, but what I've said is, what is most important, when it comes to superannuation, Labour's policy is we want the super scheme to be there, for people with an age eligibility of 65 - that's the bottom line."

However, he has now emphasised that doesn't mean a change in policy for his party.

"I'm not proposing changing it, we are you know in the process of putting a policy together but New Zealanders can be very clear about one thing, we want the super scheme there and in its current form.

"We believe it can be, we believe in universality, we don't support and I don't support means testing.

Finance Minister Bill English said Labour's message on superannuation was confused.

"If you're the major opposition party you need to have a view about what action you would take and they do seem a bit confused.

"They seem to think they'll change something but there seems to be internal differences over what they would change, whether it's income testing or changing the age or whatever."

However, the Government was being challenged on its own response, or lack of it, to the future costs of superannuation.

Mr English said he disagreed with the view that there would not be pension in 30 years.

"There will always be a need to support older people who for various reasons don't have significant income of their own."

But does he think future eligibility criteria will have to be changed?

"Well it may do, future governments always have that choice - what I think they would know from history is that framing it, getting a consensus on this issue in New Zealand is difficult, particularly as the number of people over the age of 65 grows.

"We've had some pretty bitter debates on it in the past and I'd imagine any change will be as controversial in the future as it has been before."

Mr English was also asked about a funding boost for the Supergold card in last week's Budget.

It was put to him that it did not seem fair that wealthy over-65s can catch a free ferry to Waiheke Island to drink wine, when many other people in society were struggling.

"Well, we've continued to fund it, the alternative would be to cut it and I think that would be seen by a lot of older people as probably more significant than the financial impact, as not recognising their contribution to New Zealand."

Mr English also defended the Government's intention of giving tax cuts before resuming Superfund contributions, saying it could not do both within existing budgets.

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