Retirement commissioner Diane Maxwell's satirical video mocks 2013 policy failure video

Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell is known for her frank style, and her willingness to crack a joke.
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Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell is known for her frank style, and her willingness to crack a joke.

The retirement commissioner has broken with staid civil service tradition by releasing a mockumentary-style teaser trailer to publicise the release of her three-yearly retirement policy recommendations.

The recommendations to Parliament, to be released on December 8, will suggest changes to KiwiSaver and measures to make NZ Super more sustainable as the population ages.

But commissioner Diane Maxwell is determined the recommendations won't go unnoticed this time, and so won't be sending MPs an easily-ignored written report.

Instead her plan is to release the recommendations in an hard-to-ignore interactive online package including video clips, which the teaser trailer foreshadows.

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"Our story takes us back in time to 2013," the trailer's gravel-voiced narrator begins over images of Maxwell entering Parliament with a report tucked under her arm.

"The retirement commissioner went to Parliament with a report in her bag, and hope in her heart. She had a dream that all political parties would put politics aside and come together, a vision that New Zealand would talk about the changes ahead, about the ageing population."

"The report was a mere 100 pages. She was sure someone would listen. But as the minutes turned to days, and the days turned to weeks, and the weeks turned to months, she grew tired, despondent, cold and hungry, and maybe a little deranged," the narrator says.

"In time her hope fade that the report would make a difference or anyone would listen."

Maxwell described the video clip as a self-deprecating gag about the perils of paper reports.

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"The 2013 report was read by around 1500 people, and I'm related to several of them," she said.

"Frankly people don't have the time or the energy to read jargon-filled reports."

Maxwell was determined to learn from the failure of the 2013 attempt to jolt MPs into action.

"The 2016 review has been very different, with much more public engagement across New Zealand giving us a far better understanding of the issues at ground level," she said.

"We've heard from thousands of New Zealanders, young and old, about their lives, experiences, beliefs and challenges for today and tomorrow. In the next two weeks we will be releasing all the work, but not in a report."

Maxwell said the clip was also a reminder that a bipartisan agreement was needed to take the politics out of retirement income policy.

She denied the clip was a jibe aimed at any particular politician.

"It's aimed at politicians, the public and the media," she said.

Prime Minister John Key famously pledged no changes to NZ Super on his watch as prime minister.

Under Maxwell the commission has dropped its staid image, occasionally doing things in ways uncharacteristic of government service.

An example are the motivational phrases emblazoned on the commission's walls, which includes the highly non-governmental phrase: "Bitch, it ain't on the list!"

It was the catch-cry of two women who shopped together in a bid to keep their spending down. It was spoken when one discovered the other had sneaked something into her trolley that wasn't on her shopping list.

 - Stuff

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