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Marc My Words…by Marc Alexander MP

Marc My Words…by Marc Alexander MP


The plight of elders in the community is a shameful reminder of how we devalue those who have contributed most. In the last few years we have seen this government ram through a number of dubious social ‘feel-good’ policies aimed at ‘satisfying’ various segments of society. These have been against their better long term interests and primarily to shore up electoral support for the government. Let’s remind ourselves of just a few before getting to the main point of this week’s comment.

Despite a lack of the public will – and on the strength of about half of the 8000 prostitutes of this country – Labour has enabled ‘pimping’ (living off the earnings of prostitutes) to become a legitimate business activity; imposed greater impediments to shedding unproductive labour; the higher minimum wage has effectively restricted job opportunities for those least skilled, and those who pose the highest risk to employers; an extra week’s holiday generously given to employees who if they wish to preserve the same standard of living, will now have to work longer due to the higher wage costs passed on in their purchases, and now the prospect of civil unions to placate the 0.05% of the population who may be gay, ( an even smaller percent may demand the same rights without the same natural responsibilities as married heterosexuals) ; hell…we even award a rapist-murderer $1,200 for his miserable ‘hurt feelings’!!

Against this backdrop we have 464,672 superannuitants who are being short changed by around $4,500,000 in payments, this is if we accept the lower threshold of 65% of the average weekly wage – much more if we accept the upper limit of 72%. Why is this? It is because the New Zealand Superannuation rates are adjusted in April using the December version of the Quarterly Employment Survey rather than the more recent March data. It is obvious on this basis that New Zealand Superannuation falls below even the 65% threshold.

Add to the mix a reported 20% increase in calls for help to Age Concern as more and more of our undervalued elderly are forced to turn to welfare agencies for emergency assistance; falling home ownership rates for our senior citizens are leading to a shortage of rental homes; increased pressure on City Mission food banks while medical expenses continue to rise unabated; is it any wonder that what should be a retirement full of rich opportunities is viewed with utter dread and desperation by an increasing number of our fellow Kiwis?

We also have the heartless situation where superannuitants with partners in care are denied the single living alone rate because they are still married! In one such case in Nelson a husband was advised to divorce his ailing wife so that he could be eligible for the full living alone payment! Isn’t it time that all superannuitants should receive the same individual rates irrespective of the circumstances of their marital status? Why penalise those whose marriage has endured? It is simply absurd to punish those who have the most to teach us about commitment, family, and the ability to withstand the vicissitudes of life. As a society we must set our sights higher because the aspirations of our elders are a beacon to our future possibilities.

We have relegated our elders to the outer fringes of our community – forcing them to struggle and eke out a Spartan lifestyle, putting them at serious risk – ultimately to our greater cost. We should be ashamed and embarrassed that the most venerable and experienced members of our society should be so treated while we heap rights and entitlements on everybody else with little ethical judgement at all. Rather than life’s journey being one that is ever-enriching and affirming, we have cut off this experience for those from whom we have learnt so much and for whom we should be forever grateful.

For better and worse, they have shaped our world, reared us, given us our history and passed on our culture, yet sadly, we treat our criminals better!

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