24 May 2015

KiwiSaver cuts 'stealing from future generations'

10:34 pm on 24 May 2015

The Government is being accused of stealing from future generations by scrapping the $1000 KiwiSaver kickstart payment.

Legislation cancelling the payment was one of a number of budget-related bills passed as Parliament sat under urgency until late Saturday night.

John Key and Bill English.

Prime Minister John Key, with Finance Minister Bill English. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The Government said halting the kickstart payment would save it about $500 million over the next four years.

But during the debate over the weekend, Labour's David Clark said that National had hit the panic button because it failed to reach surplus.

"It is stealing from future generations through this measure, by taking the thousand dollar kickstart programme out of action.

"It said that it will increase benefits in this budget, but it's giving with one hand, and taking from another."

ACT Party leader David Seymour said that the real elephant in the room was the looming cost of superannuation.

"They're more than happy to take away from younger New Zealanders, those who might have been enrolling for KiwiSaver in the future, but they will not bite the bullet when it comes to the future liabilities for NZ Super that those same young people will now have to pay."

Legislation imposing a levy on international travelers was also passed, although no decision has been made on how much they would have to pay.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy defended the move, saying that many other countries had a similar levy.

"The fundamental principle behind the introduction of the Border Clearance Levy is that it is fairer that the travellers that generate the need for these border clearance services and who benefit from them contribute to the cost of these activities."

Government MPs tried to argue the levies were not taxes, but Labour MPs took great delight in reading definitions from a range of dictionaries, making it clear a levy was a tax.

Labour's Annette King said her party could not support it because it was a new tax that was not campaigned on.

"Did they go to the election and say, 'we are going to raise a new tax, we're going to put it on travellers arriving and departing - on New Zealanders and on foreigners'? No, they did not... this is a very sneaky, sneaking little tax."

Parliament also passed legislation paving the way for the sale of State housing to community housing providers and bringing in a telecommunication levy to pay for extensions to rural broadband.

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