6 Mar 2017

VIDEO: PM rules out means-testing for superannuation

10:00 am on 6 March 2017

Prime Minister Bill English says the government has ruled out means-testing for superannuation and there would be no change to the way it is paid out.

On Saturday, Mr English told TV3 show The Nation the government was reviewing the scheme but he had ruled out drastic changes.

Mr English told Morning Report's Susie Ferguson today he would announce the policy on superannuation "quite soon".

People would have to wait and see whether the age of eligibility would change.

But there would be no change to the entitlement to superannuation. "We are not contemplating any change to the way the national super is paid," he said.

He would not reduce the age of entitlement for Māori and Pasifika people.

Mr English said the government had not considered means-testing.

"New Zealand had 30 years of debate over means-testing and came to a conclusion not to do it.

"One of the things that seems to occur as a result of that is significantly increased number of older people in work because they can still retain their national Super in full even though they're working.

"It's turned out that's happened on a larger scale than was expected."

He would not comment on whether he was considering United Future leader Peter Dunne's suggestion of a more flexible form of Super in which people could take a lower rate of superannuation from the age of 60, or a higher rate from the age of 70.

"Once the government's position is clear there'll be discussion among a range of parties."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters told the programme there was no evidence the age of eligibility should rise.

The government would be better off ensuring its immigration policy brought in young people who would take part in the economy,

Instead, some 86,000 people over the past 15 years had claimed superannuation after 10 years in the country.

Mr Peters said yesterday said voters were being railroaded into thinking superannuation was unaffordable, but only 3.8 percent of GDP was spent on superannuation while the OECD average was 7 percent.

'I'm tired, I'm broken'

Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell said she was pleased the issue of New Zealand's ageing population was finally being discussed.

Ms Maxwell has proposed no change in eligibility for the next 10 years and then a gradual raising of the age of eligibility to 67 by three months a year, over eight years.

The age could not be raised immediately because people in their 50s still working would need a lot of support, she said.

"We had 12,000 people talk to us last year and send in their stories.

"The majority said 68 to 72 is when they're going to retire, and then there was a big group that said, 'You've got to be kidding me, you stupid bureaucrat woman - I'm tired, I'm broken.'"

Grey Power said it wanted a reasonable conversation with Mr English about what was likely to happen.

President Tom O'Connor told Morning Report the lobby group was due to meet with Mr English in the next two weeks.

"We've had a reasonable discussion with the Retirement Commissioner so we know pretty well what the government is thinking on this. Some of it makes sense; some of it, I have to say, is a bit idealistic."

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