So a few peeps have been asking me ‘how can they trust the Labour Party to not raise the retirement age when the party had voted to do just that in the past, even campaigned on it?’ Surely this is a flounder like flip flop of flat fish proportions right?
I won’t pretend I know exactly what’s going on, because I don’t, but I’ve had a quick look at some news articles from when they idea was first floated until now, so I’ll share this: from what I can tell Labour has held the position of raising the retirement age from since Phil Goff days, and mostly in response to the government suspending taxpayer contributions to the SuperFund (Cullen Fund). The SuperFund was designed to help address future universal super costs by annually funding a percentage of it future payments via investment in income producing assets.
However, when set up in 2003, and to serve its intended purpose, the fund required a commitment from future governments of comprehensive funding until 2020. The funding forecast ensured the fund had the necessary capital to make the required investments it would need to grow the fund to a state where it would be able to do the job it was tasked with. This is not happening and hasn’t been since 2009. To a lesser, but not insignificant degree, the government’s tinkering with Kiwisaver has already wiped money from people’s retirement accounts, meaning the numbers needing rather than merely opting to draw super in later years is likely to increase, ergo keeping overall costs high.
In light of the government’s seemingly willful blindness to the importance of funding the SuperFund, David Parker argued in 2014 for the Labour Party to retain Goff’s raising the retirement age plank as part of their retirement policy. Labour’s policy sought to signal to the country that in the complete absence of any other motivations to address future super costs under National, the age of entitlement would have to be the first cab off the rank for future governments desperate for solutions. Parker, like Goff believed if raising the retirement age was to become inevitable if National stayed in government, then it was important to signal to voters the date the age would have to start to moving up decades out, not years like what we saw in the 1990s when the age moved from 60 to 65 years over 10. Labour’s policy mirrored the Retirement Commissioner’s recommendation of reaching the increased retirement age in twenty years by 2033, thereby giving people an opportunity to consider alternative options, ie upskilling, increasing Kiwisaver contributions, private pension schemes, commercial investments.
Not contributing to the SuperFund from 2009 has cost New Zealanders up to $20 billion in contributions (ie capital to invest) and up to $50 billion in income producing assets. Meanwhile the government has drawn down $11 billion in dividends, leaving even less money for the fund to re-invest. SuperFund is a high performing asset, for context it is New Zealand’s biggest tax payer. In contrast, National want to increase the retirement age to save $4 billion in 2040.
Labour leader Andrew Little argued the maths vs the values of a fair society didn’t stack up and said as much during his leadership bid. He campaigned to keep the retirement age at 65 and democratically party members voted to back his call. A call that says, I believe in a future Labour government once again making retirement funding an immediate and pressing issue that needs addressing now – not in 2040 when Bill’s 85, and comfortably numb on his government paid MP pension.
“Within the space of two terms of office we have put an end to decades of turmoil during which New Zealanders struggled to prepare for retirement while politicians kicked superannuation around like a football.
We have now stabilised the long term funding of the basic state pension so that it will remain a secure bedrock for all New Zealanders. And this year we have introduced a savings scheme that will place an achievable programme of retirement savings within the grasp of every working New Zealander.
We are giving New Zealanders a tangible stake in their future, and ensuring that that future is a solid one.”
—– Michael Cullen, Labour Government, 2005
So here we are in 2017 suffering from successive right governments unwilling to do the necessary funding to support future super costs, now claiming, like that other ship that couldn’t be turned Margaret Thatcher, we have no alternative…
T.I.N.A my …..
* Please note: no flounder were harmed in the making of this opinion/comment *
Picking John Key will not return to parliament after the Christmas break citing ongoing family reasons, triggering an earlier than expected general election next year.
If what John Key says is true, he might not have much left in the tank, but politically he has left the National Party with plenty in theirs – for now. They will need to use it wisely or they could face running out of steam in the next twelve months and find that capital is not there when they need it most. Better to kick Key to the curb now when he can bow out with relatively not much fuss after Christmas, giving the new prime minister a a fair suck of the election sav’.
A costly by-election can be avoided if a general election is held within 6 months of a minister resigning, and the writ (the notice of the election date) receives 75% support of the parliament. That could mean an election could be held in the first half of 2017.
If there really is a Santa in the House, they’d bring me this for Christmas.
Screwing the scrum: the government is screwing people and democracy by underfunding watchdogs and public service.
When I heard Nicky Hagar speak last year, he said the ‘takeaway’ from ‘Dirty Politics’ was not the salacious scandal but the slow erosion of democracy behind it. He asked we seek to create a society where our public service and our public servants, and scientists, and eductors and our health workers were not just free to speak-out against governments but supported to. Transperency in government should know no party colours.
Another Serious Fraud Office investigation worth mentioning: John Key did you lie to the Serious Fraud Office
Resignation Watch: calls are growing for New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to resign after the ex currency trader is caught on CCTV playing an illegal game of Elevator Bingo in Beehive lift…more at six.
Calls are growing for New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to resign after footage surfaced of him participating in an illegal game of ‘Elevator Bingo’.
His party’s National government legalised elevator gambling in all government buildings last year at the request of casino operator Skycity who were seeking an outside of the box solution to cover a funding shortfall for their iconic #SkySore Convention Centre in Auckland. While elevator gambling was perfectly legal in all other government buildings, it still remains a criminal activity in the lifts of the nation’s Parliament and the footage has many questioning the Prime Minister’s judgement.
He had earlier rubbished Opposition claims his office was moving to legalise gambling in the Beehive’s lifts after it was revealed last minute amendments were made in secrecy to Skycity’s 200 year elevator gambling license last week, including provision for bingo balls to be installed in any lift at any Government Ministers’ request. When confronted by journalists this afternoon, the Prime Minister said he could not recall ever been in an elevator and he was “comfortable with that” but would consult with his Office stapler to be sure.
Last week the Prime Minister refused to be drawn on rumours of the secret amendments saying they were ‘operational matters’ but maintained if there were any balls, hypothetically the balls would be an eyesore only if cheaper smaller balls were installed, especially when all economic signs pointed to the Beehive needing bigger balls when gambling with a casino operator such as Skycity.
Anti-gambling opponents angered by the latest revelations say access to the Beehive would be lucrative for Skycity, especially if the Government approves the casino’s bid to legalise ‘Lave Va Tory Craps’ too.
Meanwhile the country’s Attonery General Chris Finlayson denied his elevator bingo hosting gig was a violation of his employment conditions, citing a recent change to Speaker’s ruling ‘Eggs Eleven’ which made it a requirement for Ministers of the Crown to moonlight as Beehivecity ‘Elevator Bingo’ hosts at least three nights a week.
Re-enactment only: Beehive CCTV
Speaker David Carter confirmed the rule change, saying he was having Parliament do what it could to assist the Government with it’s surplus, and to a lesser degree the struggling Prime Minister whose office was feeling the pinch after Parliament ruled Prime Ministers were to supply their own Prime Ministerial crayons for the entirety of their term; and with at least three potential Key Prime Ministers inhabiting the office at any given time the stationary expenses on the 9th floor were said to be skyrocketing.
As well as having Crown Ministers’ tithe their bingo commissions to the Prime Minister’s office, Parliament visitors were being asked to bring donations of non-toxic textures and PM friendly pastels with their next visit.
“We’ve all gotta do our bit,” the Speaker said, “if they could play bingo while they’re here, that would be great too.”
In other news – Minister of Finance Bill English has been cleared of any wrong doing in the elevator, with investigators concluding the state of the New Zealand economy was enough wrong doing for any man.