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Can New Zealand Afford to Retire?

23 July 1999

Press Release
Angela Foulkes
Chair, Super 2000 Taskforce

Can New Zealand Afford to Retire?


"One of the most daunting challenges facing New Zealand is how to ensure the financial security of those in retirement as the 'Baby Boom' and then subsequent generations retire," the Chair of the Super 2000 Taskforce, Angela Foulkes, said today.

"In thirty years the number of New Zealanders aged 65 years and over will more than double to almost one million people. At the same time, for every working age person there will be twice as many people over 65," Ms Foulkes said.

"Some change to current retirement income policy will be necessary over the long-term, but we must start now to plan for those adjustments," she said.

Ms Foulkes was speaking at the launch of the Taskforce's public information campaign in Auckland designed to raise public awareness of long-term retirement income issues. The Taskforce will recommend by November 2000 a long-term retirement framework for New Zealand.

"Auckland was chosen for our launch because it is the city that will change most dramatically over the next few decades. But every community in New Zealand will see major change and that will be one of our messages to people over the coming months," Ms Foulkes said.

"Today, there is no political agreement on long-term retirement policy, but all parties accept today's policy must change. Sustainable, long-term retirement policy can only happen if there is public and political consensus on what is needed to achieve financial security and well-being in old age," she said.

"We have commissioned research which shows that most people want all political parties to agree on a long-term policy for New Zealand Superannuation. People want certainty, so they can plan for their own retirement," she said.
Over the next several months the Taskforce will research attitudes to retirement, commission expert advice and regularly share its findings with the public. Above all, it will be fiercely independent and apolitical.

"In a sense, from a communications perspective, our job is to raise awareness and inform the public about the issues and to inform the political parties about the views of the public," she said.

The Taskforce announced today that it would be conducting a Survey on the Living Standards of Older People, the first such survey for 25 years.

"This is a significant piece of work which will be conducted by New Zealand Statistics, analysed independently, and available to all those involved in the debate. It will be completed by mid-2000.

"The Survey will provide valuable information to inform social policy in all areas of retired New Zealanders' lives as well as through retirement income," Ms Foulkes said.

"We will also commission expert advice on options to ensure the stability of a long-term retirement policy. By that we mean that we have a policy which people understand, and is capable of adjustment over time, but is protected from radical and regular change.

"The mechanisms that are part of such an option should still have the flexibility for change according to circumstances, but it in a way that is manageable for both individuals and the country," she said.

The symbol of the Taskforce will be a Kea, Super Ann, who will become a feature of all communications.

ENDS

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