Economic recovery tops readers' worry list

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 17/03/2014

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A strong economic recovery, cracking down on crime and money in the pocket have topped the list of issues close to the hearts of people in the Waikato.

The results are part of a Waikato Times subscriber's poll this week which shows 61 per cent of the 271 respondents thought the economy was the No 1 issue in the lead-up to the general election in September.

Law and order was the second most important issue on the list for Times readers at 55 per cent with the cost of living rounding out the top three concerns on 50.6 per cent.

The poll also showed 78.4 per cent of participants felt their families were the same or better off than they were three years ago. Asked who they intended to vote for, 52.8 per cent said the National Party.

Labour polled at only 18.8 per cent from the participants, more than 80 per cent of whom were 50 or older.

Poor wages for low skilled labour, unemployment and an unfair tax system for retirees were some of the issues raised. One reader said pensioners had become the new poor.

"For us on a Government pension as only income, there is no doubt that poverty is starting in the aged person arena," the reader wrote.

University of Waikato professor Peggy Koopman-Boyden from the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis said it was tough to get by on the pension alone.

"Put yourself on the state pension and you have nothing else and you might have a few problems," she said.

When asked if she agreed that poverty was an accurate description of superannuitants' state, she said: "Well, maybe."

Prof Koopman-Boyden specialised in issues around ageing. She said despite crime rates falling nationally by 7.4 per cent last year, it was "always a problem" issue for the older citizens.

"They are actually concerned about crime but crime is declining and crime against older people as far as I know is not the greatest area of crime."

The official cash rate was lifted a quarter-point to 2.75 per cent, which meant pain for mortgage holders, but older New Zealanders were more likely to have savings and own a home.

"Older people live off some of their savings with low interest rates," she said. "Increasing interest rates are good for older people who have got savings and no good for people who have got mortgages."

Despite concerns about the economy the National-led Government received a strong endorsement.

A respondent said the Government managed the country "satisfactorily" during the GFC and "they deserve another term".

While Labour trailed well behind, the Greens and New Zealand First were tied on 5.2 per cent, and 14.8 per cent of poll respondents didn't know who they would vote for.

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Last month's Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll had National's popularity at 49.4 per cent, Labour at 31.8 per cent and the Greens at 10 per cent.

Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe said superannuitant's incomes had "grown significantly above the rate of inflation over the last five years" and people tended to vote on the economy, health, law and order and education.

"We've got to consolidate the gains we are having and we are not out of the woods yet. We can't afford a lolly scramble." elton.smallman@waikatotimes.co.nz

- Waikato Times

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