20 Feb 2012

Lobbyist in Cook Islands says McCully has reneged on deal over pensions

1:56 pm on 20 February 2012

A Rarotonga-based senior citizen campaigning for extended New Zealand pension rights says the New Zealand government has reneged on a deal with the Cook Islands government and left hopeful pensioners in the lurch.

The Cook Islands News reports New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully saying that a superannuation portability proposal would not be considered until New Zealand has digested the cost of the Christchurch earthquake.

Les Priest of the New Zealand Superannuation Lobby Group has been fighting for nearly twenty years to end a situation where New Zealanders living in the Cook Islands must return to New Zealand for five years to apply for the pension, yet new residents can bring their pensions with them.

Mr Priest says Mr McCully has gone back on his word of May last year.

"Murray McCully said if we change our immigration laws to give extra time to Kiwis when they come over here on holiday, that would complement the portability of superannuation. and he expected that outcome within about two months. Now we have changed our policy but they've just suddenly reneged on their part of the bargain."

Les Priest says Cook Islands politicians should front up to their New Zealand counterparts on the issue rather than leaving volunteers like himself to push the barrow.