7 Mar 2017

Kaye and Ardern go head-to-head on pension age

5:02 pm on 7 March 2017

Two of Parliament's most high profile Generation Y MPs have gone head-to-head over whether National's new superannuation plan is creating greater generational inequalities.

Nikki Kaye and Jacinda Ardern

National's Nikki Kaye and Labour's Jacinda Ardern have differing opinions on raising the retirement age. Photo: RNZ

If re-elected, Prime Minister Bill English said a National government would progressively raise the superannuation age from 65 to 67, starting from 2037.

Under John Key, National steadfastly refused to change any aspects of entitlement to the scheme.

Labour campaigned for an increase to the age in 2011 and 2014 but now has a policy of keeping the status quo under Andrew Little.

Part of the argument is that under National's plan, younger generations - already saddled with student loans and high house prices - will miss out once again if they have to wait until they are 67 to retire.

Nikki Kaye is the Youth Minister and at 37 one of the younger members of the National Party caucus.

There was already a debate about baby boomers versus millenials, she said, but on the whole young people recognised it was the right thing to do.

"But I think at the end of the day you know if we want to be a stronger country you've got to have affordable super and I think people understand that."

Ms Kaye said there had been some fairly "vigourous" discussions within her party about raising the age.

But she called out Labour and its new deputy about their stance.

"Because if you look at a number of statements made even by people like Jacinda Ardern, they were very clear that they thought the age needed to be raised so they have flip-flopped massively."

It was put to Ms Kaye that statement was hypocritical, given her party had also performed a major U-turn on this issue.

"Well I think the point we've made is we've got a new prime minister, and also in the global financial recession it wasn't the right thing to be sitting there and talking about some of this stuff... so I agree we have changed our position, but that's more an issue of timing."

Fresh from her election as Labour's new deputy, Ms Ardern rejected the accusation she had been inconsistent.

"I absolutely support the position that Andrew has, firmly staking in the ground that we support keeping the age where it is.

"The argument that I always made was about making sure there was affordability."

Ms Ardern said a bigger issue was resuming contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

"Bill English has not done that... and he's essentially said that it's my generation that's going to pick up the tab."

Mr Little said a Labour government would have borrowed money to continue contributions to the Super Fund.

"Yes there is a case for that, the returns have been superior to just about anyone else, there is a case, this government's been borrowing anyway."

Mr English also said the government was still considering auto-enrolment for KiwiSaver.

  • 'Super changes so little, so distant, it's pathetic'
  • Parties waiting to gauge public on super - English
  • Super changes fair but rushed, migrant groups say
  • Farewell, beautiful if irrational super dream
  • Govt to raise NZ Super age to 67 in 2040