6 Mar 2017

Allies and rivals react to National's super age change

8:53 pm on 6 March 2017

The government's plan to raise the superannuation age to 67 in 2040 has put the cat among the election pigeons.

Left to right: David Seymour, Winston Peters and Andrew Little

Left to right: ACT leader David Seymour, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and Labour leader Andrew Little Photo: RNZ

The policy would increase the age - currently 65 - by six months each year from 1 July 2037 until it reached 67 on 1 July 2040.

Labour does not support any proposed change, New Zealand First said it was so far in the future it was meaningless and ACT - a support partner of National - said the government was engaging in "intergenerational theft".

The Greens, Māori Party and United Future have also been critical.

Here is how each party initially reacted:

Labour says decision purely political

Labour leader Andrew Little said the government's proposal to increase the age of entitlement for superannuation was purely political.

He said if National really believed change should happen then it should act now, not after the September election.

"If the difference is 0.6 percent of GDP, that is a barely negligible saving, so clearly affordability isn't the issue. This is totally political as they've pushed out even legislating for it until next year and nothing takes effect until 2041.

"This is about giving the appearance of doing something and actually doing nothing."

Labour campaigned to increase the age of entitlement to 67 before the 2011 and 2014 elections, but Mr Little did not support that.

"They haven't since I campaigned for the leadership on the basis that I don't support lifting the age of eligibility by two years and we won't be lifting the age of eligibility by two years."

But had that divided his Labour caucus?

"No, our caucus isn't divided," he said.

"People who are doing physical work for most of their working life are struggling to get to 65 years now."

Mr Little said the government should resume payments to the New Zealand Super Fund.

NZ First dismisses plan for super

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters dismissed the government's plan for superannuation as being too far in the future to matter.

Mr Peters would not comment on whether or not his party would vote for the age of eligibility being progressively raised from 65 to 67 by 2040.

He said that was because the legislation not only relied on National being re-elected, but also the fact any Parliament in the next 20 years could overturn the law.

The government's proposed changes would also require new residents to be here for 20 years, up from the current 10-year requirement, before getting superannuation.

Mr Peters said he would be pushing for that to be raised further, to 25 years.

ACT says government saddling future generations with debt

The ACT Party said the government was engaging in "intergenerational theft" by delaying changes to the pension till 2037.

Its leader, David Seymour, said the policy should be phased in from 2020.

"People under 45 will pay more and more tax for unsustainable baby boomer superannuation before having the same right snatched away."

Mr Seymour said the government had "kicked the can down the road by 20 years, saddling future generations with the brunt of the change".

He said the prime minister was pulling the rug out from under young people, because he had cynically calculated that they were less likely to vote.

"What the government's just said is: we don't care about you. You're not going to punish us at the ballot box, so we're going to focus on older people who will."

Greens, Māori Party and United Future react

Greens co-leader James Shaw said because it did not kick in until after the baby boomer generations had passed through, it did not fix the problem it claimed to address.

The Māori Party's Te Ururoa Flavell said he was disappointed in the policy. His party wanted to have some time to have a review, he said.

United Future leader Peter Dunne said the government's announcement was "shortsighted".

It should all make for interesting coalition agreements come the election.

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