16 Oct 2008

National would have Super Fund invest 40% in NZ

2:15 pm on 16 October 2008

The National Party would use the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to boost investment in New Zealand.

Leader John Key says his party would amend legislation so the Fund has as its target at least 40% investment in New Zealand.

Mr Key said in Christchurch on Wednesday 15 October that the move would help ensure New Zealand has the investment capital to pull it out of a recession.

He says many companies are struggling to get the capital they need, and there are opportunities for investment including infrastructure, equities, privately listed companies and commercial paper.

Mr Key says more of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund should be used to invest in this country's productive sector, to broaden and deepen capital markets.

"I argued right back in 2004, why would we be exporting so much capital offshore in a country that has such a current account deficit.

"Don't we want to get in there and back New Zealand companies? I mean we want to give New Zealand companies the opportunity to access some capital across a broad range of options."

He says the fund would still be making investments on a commercial basis so there is no reason it would have lower returns.

"Its for the guardians...to determine where that money goes, but I'm confident that the growth rate in New Zealand under a National Government will more than demonstrate the returns will be very very strong."

Mr Key says New Zealand must ensure it emerges from the global credit crunch without severe damage to the economy.

National says it would amend the New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2001 to allow the Minister of Finance to give a direction to the Guardians of the Fund in relation to the proportion to be allocated to New Zealand.

While it would set the target of at least 40% to be invested in New Zealand, National says that "in every other regard, the Guardians of the Fund will continue to invest as they do now".

On Tuesday, Labour announced it would look at ways to get the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and KiwiSaver providers to invest more of their cash in New Zealand.

At present the fund is worth around $15 billion and is expected to reach $110 billion by 2025. It currently has 23% invested in New Zealand.

Fund returns would be affected, says Labour

Labour's finance spokesperson Michael Cullen said National's plan would inevitably affect the fund's investment returns.

"So that reduces the size of the fund, that increases the future taxpayer requirement to fund New Zealand superannuation, or it means cuts to New Zealand superannuation.

"This comes on top of the KiwiSaver-slashing proposals last week. This is Mr English demolishing the provision for future retirement income."

Dr Cullen says no Finance Minister should be trusted with directing where 40% of the Superannuation Fund goes, describing it as a very dangerous move.

"Its ironic that Mr Key called Working for Families 'communism by stealth.

"Just imagine what they would have called this proposal if I'd announced that we were going to be taking 40% of the Super Fund and using it to buy a large proportion of New Zealand companies, and also using it to fund the Government's borrowing needs."