Progress for older New Zealanders
3 July 2002
Progressive Coalition - policy
Progress for older New Zealanders
Our commitment: Supporting older New Zealanders.
All New Zealanders grow older.
As our population ages we need to take account of the needs of older New Zealanders in recognition of their contribution to our community over their lives.
These are some of the key Progressive Coalition policies for older New Zealand citizens.
Free health care for older New Zealanders
We want free GP visits for superannuitants and school kids.
This year we will sharply reduce primary health care costs for low-income earners. Next year we will achieve free GP visits for all school children, followed by superannuitants - but only if the Progressive Coalition is in Government with Labour.
If we are elected we will be able to deliver free doctors visits for all school kids. This will cost $34 million but is an important commitment for our young people and for families.
In the following year we want to see free doctors visits for all superannuitants. This will cost over $50 million but will make a huge difference in the lives of New Zealanders who have already made a significant contribution to our communities.
We are also committed to improving local assessment and rehabilitation services and provision of continuing care and palliative care facilities for older people so they do not have to face daunting travel requirements to obtain treatment.
a) Income asset and income testing
The Progressive Coalition is committed to removing asset and income testing for geriatric care, by progressively raising levels of assets and income exempt from testing.
This will need to be phased in as to remove all asset testing in one hit would cost at least as much as $250 million and could be as high as $400 million.
We would raise the threshold by $20,000 a year so that within four years the average family home would be exempted. Within eight years, asset testing would have been totally removed.
b) Rest home Subsidies
The Progressive Coalition is committed to maintaining, and where appropriate improving, current levels of rest home subsidy.
Where many elderly citizens have little option other than to leave their own home for full rest home care, we intend to develop a range of housing options. These include a variety of home help, that offer different degrees of support.
Winter energy rebate
A Winter energy subsidy of around $15 a month for superannuitants, beneficiaries and those on low incomes.
A rebate averaging about $15 a month will reduce winter power bills by about a quarter.
The rebate is designed to make home heating more affordable in the winter months for New Zealanders on fixed incomes.
The Progressive Coalition proposes making the rebate a priority because we don't want vulnerable New Zealanders to worry about the costs of turning up their heating to keep warm.
Assuming 800,000 households are eligible, the rebate would cost $36 million per year at an average rate of $15 per month.
The Progressive Coalition is committed to the Coalition Government’s Superannuation Fund.
NZ Superannuation should be universally available in recognition of people’s contributions to New Zealand during their active working lives.
The Fund is to come from the Government’s Capital Budget and will therefore not interfere with current funding arrangements for health, education and social welfare.
The fund should be sufficient so that the married couple superannuation rate is fixed between 65 and 72.5 per cent of average ordinary time weekly earnings after tax.
Our population is ageing and adjustments will be needed to provide for a growing number of superannuitants.
The super fund this Coalition Government has created maintains some pay-as-you-go element for the future, and allows us to continue to meet demands for other essential social services today.
There will always be pressure to cut superannuation unless it is locked up in a secure fund.
- It locks into law the base rate of superannuation: sixty-five per cent of average ordinary time earnings for a married retired couple.
- It pre-funds a proportion of future costs, on a fair basis;
- It continues a significant pay-as-you-go component, so that no generation has to pay twice for superannuation;
- It maintains a voluntary second-tier system. For example private superannuation and savings schemes such as universal super).
The Progressive Coalition wants to have a regular survey to ensure the living standards of older New Zealanders are maintained.