Mayor's baby boomer comments backfire when pensioners strike back
New Plymouth's mayor has been labelled a "pensioner basher" and compared to Donald Trump after calling baby boomers the most selfish generation ever.
Mayor Neil Holdom's contentious baby boomer comments were published this week in New Plymouth's Live magazine and immediately angered community leaders who work with pensioners.
Government appointed SuperSenior Champion Lance Girling-Butcher decried it as "pensioner bashing" while former New Plymouth District councillor Keith Allum said the mayor's singling out of one group was wrong and exactly what Trump was currently doing to Muslims.
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For his part the first term mayor has stuck by his words in which he described baby boomers as the "most selfish generation we've ever known" and that they were the first generation to be richer than their children "basically on the back of housing inflation".
"But who's going to buy all your property, because none of our kids can afford it? Your grandchildren are going to be the first generation poorer than their parents," he is quoted as saying.
On Thursday Holdom said his comments needed context and that during the magazine interview he was asked about what he would be doing to make New Plymouth a more age friendly city.
Holdom explained he saw his job as being for all people in the district, not just the baby boomers, who he described as "wielding a lot of political power".
"I made the point, and you can see it in the article, that I don't have a demographic. I'm not focusing on one.
"The role of council is to focus on everybody and we are not singling out one particular group."
Such explanations did not placate Girling-Butcher who said the comments were unfair and uninformed.
"The last thing we need is the mayor setting an appalling example by pensioner bashing," he said.
He said there were a number of baby boomers who were struggling to survive, and lived week to week on their superannuations.
"These are the same people who give their time to the many volunteer organisations which hold this community together.
"He has completely underestimated the contribution these people make."
Although the official definition of a baby boomer is someone born between the years of 1946 and 1964, Holdom claims he wasn't talking about pensioners.
"Baby boomers aren't pensioners yet. Baby boomers are people in their late 50s, through to late 60s," Holdom said.
"I have some of these people coming to me, who are wealthier than other ratepayers, with no mortgages, and they are asking for additional services that are either free or subsidised.
"But at the same time they are asking us to keep rates down."
Allum said Holdom's comments in the magazine article were disappointing.
Allum, who once served as Grey Power's council watchdog before being elected himself, said he agreed with a number of things Holdom had done since becoming the mayor.
"But he should lay off the pensioners.
"To say they are selfish or greedy is wrong.
"There are selfish and greedy people in all parts of society and to target one section of the community is very wrong.
"It's like what Donald Trump is doing with Muslims. It's very wrong."
In 2013, there were 607,032 people who were more than 65 years old, making up 14.3 per cent of the population, while more than 73,000 people were aged 85 years or more.