Labour leader Andrew Little says superannuation fund needs boost, but leave retirement age alone

Andrew Little said he opposed any changes to the superannuation age, due to the strain it could place on some elderly people.
Hagen Hopkins

Andrew Little said he opposed any changes to the superannuation age, due to the strain it could place on some elderly people.

Newly appointed Prime Minister Bill English should resume payments into the country's superannuation fund "as a matter of priority" - but keep the retirement age untouched, Labour leader Andrew Little says.

In his first press conference as prime minister, English ruled out making the same commitment as former prime minister John Key, who pledged to resign if he ever changed superannuation entitlements.

"I'm not making the same pledge as the previous prime minister did, that was a product of its time, where there was a need to establish trust.

Prime Minister Bill English says he will not follow John Key's commitment not to change superannuation.
MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ

Prime Minister Bill English says he will not follow John Key's commitment not to change superannuation.

"I think it was a sound decision then, because the election was followed by a recession, which could have caused real insecurity for older people."

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Speaking to RNZ, Little said he opposed any changes to the superannuation age, due to the strain it could place on some elderly people.

"There are working people, people who do physical and manual jobs throughout their working life, right now they struggle to get to the age of 65 already.

"I met a line technician a few years ago who was 64, looking forward to his retirement at 65, his employer had approached him and said 'Listen, we can't find replacement line technicians, do you mind working until you're 70?

"He was horrified...he simply could not do that work anymore."

While people who worked in less physical professions could continue past 65, universal superannuation meant you needed the same rules for everybody.

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CONTRIBUTIONS 'MATTER OF PRIORITY'

However, Little told RNZ the Government needed to resume contributions to the NZ Super Fund - put on hold after National won power in 2008 - "as a matter of priority" to ensure the country could afford the costs of superannuation.

"This government, the minute they got into government, stopped making contributions, they haven't put a dollar into it."

Closing the up to $20 billion shortfall in superannuation funding needed to be a priority, he said.

"One of the things we do well is avoiding elder poverty because of our superannuation scheme and we need to keep that."

At the Treasury's half-year update last week, English said contributions to the Super Fund would only resume once net debt fell below 20 per cent of GDP, expected to be in 2020/21.

 - Stuff

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