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Peters: The Super Rip-Off Continues

14 July 2005

An address by Rt Hon Winston Peters to members of Howick-Pakuranga Grey Power, Friday 15 July 2005 at 10:30am, Pakuranga College, Pigeon Mountain Road, Bucklands Beach, Auckland

The Super Rip-Off Continues, So Make MMP Work For You

I want to begin today by addressing an issue of some concern.

Some foolish politicians and commentators have tried to link New Zealand First’s immigration policies with the recent attacks on Muslim mosques in Auckland.

Let me say on the public record here and now that New Zealand First has never, nor will it ever, endorse violence or terrorism as a means of making a political statement.

These thoughtless politicians are more concerned about getting headlines than dealing with the truth.

But I would add this warning - if these same politicians think they can prevent New Zealand First from engaging in much needed discussion on immigration issues, they can think again.

Now my office has been informed that some of our political opponents have suggested that Grey Power has been selectively endorsing New Zealand First at the exclusion of others.

Indeed a concerned constituent passed on a most disturbing letter from the so-called leader of the opposition basically trying to threaten the Grey Power executive. (Read out Brash complaint and Grey Power reply - 1st letter from Brash 21 June; 2nd letter from Grey Power 28 June).

This is a most troubling development in the way some conduct their politics in this country.

For example, over the last four months, whenever I have campaigned at Grey Power meetings, the National party has seen fit to bombard vehicles outside the meetings with their paraphernalia, including parking their candidates’ vehicles, signatured, in the carpark.

This disturbing development moved Grey Power Hastings and Districts Association to complain to Dr Brash of his party’s discourtesy. (Letter from Hastings Districts Grey Power 29 April).

That complaint fell on deaf ears and subsequently month after month, and meeting after meeting, his party’s organisation has carried on the same practices.

My challenge to the National Party is - hire a telephone booth and conduct your own meetings instead of trying to get a vicarious benefit out of mine.

It is only those that are truly desperate for power who would resort to such tactics, and one would have thought that a party that was started in 1936 was bigger and better than that.

Let me set the record straight today once and for all.

Yes we have spoken to members of Grey Power’s executive in the past - in fact from the day Grey Power started.

But they have always acted with the utmost propriety and in a totally neutral manner.

They have always informed us that they are meeting with all political parties and their relevant spokespeople.

There have been no back room deals, no special endorsements or anything untoward.

You can have full confidence that your executive and others from Grey Power have engaged with New Zealand First appropriately.

For Mr Brash to claim that Grey Power is doing otherwise is nothing short of an ignorant insult which Grey Power members should not have to tolerate.

The difference between the reception Grey Power gets from Labour or National and New Zealand First is that we actually listen.

You see they complain that Grey Power audiences are responding to New Zealand First’s message.

Well we have a simple point for them to consider.

We actually take the concerns of seniors seriously and we have the policy solutions to match.

Labour and National tell you what you can’t have - we say they have their priorities wrong, and we tell you what we believe you deserve.

Helen Clark’s idea of a charm offensive is to go around the country telling Grey Power members that the government can’t afford what New Zealand First is promising.

We say she is wrong and she is just too tight and uncaring to give you a fair go.

Labour finds millions for all of their pet projects, like gay marriage, legalised prostitution, race based health funding to name but a few - but nothing for seniors.

This heartless callous approach is now costing Labour support.

National is just sulking because nobody wants to hear from them.

Brash has the audacity to question why it is that Grey Power audiences actually turn up in large numbers when New Zealand First speakers address them.

Well there are two reasons why.

The most obvious is that Grey Power audiences are sick of National’s approach of being told to be grateful for the few crumbs they throw their way.

National has an appalling recent record where retirement is concerned.

Remember the surtax increase of 1991? And the superannuation cuts of 01 October 1998?

We say you deserve better - and we will deliver it.

Now let me get to an even more pressing matter.

We have raised in the past the great superannuation rip-off which this current government has engaged in.

Well, we have done the figures again and it seems this government has persisted in ripping seniors off by not reaching the legally required 65 percent threshold of the Net Average Wage.

We had the parliamentary library in Wellington provide us with the Net Average Wage figures used to calculate your superannuation.

We were shocked to discover that from the quarter ending 30 June 2004 through to the quarter ending March 2005, your superannuation never actually once crossed the legally required threshold.

That’s right - not once.

You see in the first quarter mentioned, the amount they were ripping you off each week was only 78 cents.

But by the end of the final quarter this had climbed to more than $10 a week.

This is money we believe that you deserve to have back in your pockets - where it rightfully belongs according to the law.

So we have launched a petition this week aimed at getting this money back to you.

You can sign it here today - and we are having our electorate people and those members of Grey Power and other organisations prepared to help us collect signatures and distribute the petition.

We believe that the least any government should do is pay you what you are legally entitled to.

Now we in New Zealand First have a comprehensive package for seniors

New Zealand First intends to see that each and every person over the age of 65 receives a gold card that says you are a valued member of the community.

We will raise the level of superannuation from the current rate of 32.5 percent of the Net Average Wage individually for each married superannuitant to 34 percent or 68 percent per couple. This will put nearly $10 a week extra in your pockets.

In the long term our aim is to lift superannuation from 65 percent of the Net Average Wage for couples, to 72.5 percent.

We will also correct the anomaly related to the non-qualified spouse and bring their rebate rate down from 70 cents to 30 cents in the dollar like other benefits.

Our gold card also includes improved subsidies for healthcare and medicines.

We also intend to:

- improve the rates rebate scheme;

- lower charges for power, gas and telephone;

- improve access to savings incentives in the form of bonus interest rates on term deposits; and

- extend transport and other discounts available to seniors.

Also included in our policy, but not part of the Golden Age Card, is the need to dramatically increase funding to the eldercare sector and to remove income and asset testing. This industry is in meltdown.

The extra money the government put in the Budget on this front is only a fraction of what is required. Most will go on back payments for staff under-funding over the past five years and the rest is at the discretion of DHBs as to how it is spent.

We will also be looking into the issue of transferability of overseas pensions, particularly sections 19 and 70 of the Social Security Act. We believe there are improvements which can be made here.

This policy is based on a vision of our seniors living a better life, with dignity.

You will hear Labour and National come up with umpteen reasons why they can’t afford to treat our seniors with dignity.

We say that we can’t afford not to.

We also want to ensure the ongoing sustainability of superannuation by moving the Cullen fund into individualised accounts. Only this measure will ensure future government’s cannot dip into this fund.

Now this is our fourth MMP election.

Senior citizens can have a huge influence on the outcome if they vote strategically.

If you want a party willing to make seniors a priority then give New Zealand First your party vote.

If you want a party which takes seriously the need to address immigration issues then give New Zealand First your party vote.

If you want a party which believes New Zealand’s land and assets should be in New Zealanders hands, not foreign investors, then give your party vote to New Zealand First.

If you want to see an end to the Bro’ocracy and race based funding, then give your party vote to New Zealand First.

You see if you want to make MMP work for you - then give New Zealand First your party vote.

If it is a change from the failed policies and warped priorities of the two tired old parties then New Zealand First is your choice for change.

And a change for the better.

ENDS

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