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PQ 3. Superannuation—Current Policy

3. Superannuation—Current Policy

[Sitting date: 31 July 2014. Volume:700;Page:1. Text is subject to correction.]


3. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister for Social Development : Are the current policy arrangements for New Zealand Superannuation fair and equitable?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development): Yes. I would note that under the National-led Government the married rate of New Zealand superannuation has increased by 29 percent. This has boosted the fortnightly married rate payments by $249, to $1,129, since 2008. This significant increase reflects inflation adjustments, increases in the average wage, and tax and ACC reductions. That may well be the reason for this Government’s strong support from older New Zealanders.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : How can she justify the confiscation of contributory overseas pensions under section 70 of the Social Security Act for those who have spent part of their working lives in countries such as the UK, the Netherlands, Canada, and Germany?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : Because we believe that the direct deduction policy is to ensure that all superannuitants are treated equitably and receive the same income. It is for that reason that we do it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Why is there a double standard between those penalised by section 70 and the migrants from countries with no State-run pensions who are given full New Zealand superannuation after only 10 years’ residency, keeping their private savings intact?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : The direct deduction policy is about those who have paid into a Government superannuation scheme overseas. For those who are in New Zealand and who have been here for 10 years as residents, we consider them New Zealanders and they are eligible for New Zealand superannuation, and I do think that is fair.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : What justification is there for the unfair application of section 70 to a spouse’s entitlement to New Zealand superannuation, and how would the Minister respond to the human rights class action in regard to spousal entitlement in New Zealand?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : For the very reason that it is a spousal entitlement, so it considers both people. It is about those people who have been in New Zealand for over 45 years, as the member knows, and have been paying their taxes towards a universal superannuation scheme. It is not fair that those who have been overseas for some time actually get more than they do. We think it is fair to New Zealanders, and that is why we have the policy.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : How is she expected to be believed in defending the right of people who have been here for 10 years only—no need to pay tax or make any contribution at all—and her vote against the review of section 70 in 2013, and will she commit to a mandatory review of section 70, to give 70,000 people affected adversely by her policy on overseas pensions a fair and equitable outcome?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : I encourage that member to actually go and price out his policy, because, actually, it is hundreds of millions of dollars to look at section 70. We do not think that is fair to New Zealanders who have been working here and who have, in many respects, through their taxes paid towards a universal superannuation scheme. They should be on an equal footing with those who have been overseas for some time.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Supplementary question—

Mr SPEAKER : I—

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Yes, five.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member is entitled to four supplementary questions today. He has had his allocation.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Oh, this is a dynamic question. Could I seek leave to ask this question on the last day of the House in the—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! The member is absolutely entitled to seek leave. I will hear from Mr Brownlee before I put the leave.

Hon Gerry Brownlee : Mr Spirit—Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Hon Gerry Brownlee : I want to make it quite clear that was no reference to the Rt Hon Winston Peters, but—

Mr SPEAKER : I was more concerned it was a reference to me.

Hon Gerry Brownlee : No one would—surely, Mr Speaker. Can I suggest that you take one of our allocation and we will give it to Mr Peters. This is going so well.

Mr SPEAKER : That seems a very fair solution.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I knew those polls were shifting. Thank you to my colleague over there. Has the Minister considered New Zealand First’s enlightened and fair solution of proportional entitlement to New Zealand superannuation based on adult years of residence in New Zealand and leaving people’s overseas pensions alone, as considered by the retirement policy and research centre, to be a fair policy?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : I have looked at it, and I do not think it is fair. Firstly, some people would lose money, and I do not think that that is right. Equally, I think the difference is that we believe that those who have been eligible for New Zealand residency and have been here and present for 10 years are New Zealanders. Actually, unlike that member, who thinks that they should be treated differently and worse, we think they should be treated equally with other New Zealanders.

Hon Trevor Mallard : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to check the rules with regard to flashes in the House. Mr Hayes appears to be flashing from a camera .

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! I will deal—[Interruption] Order! I am on my feet.

Hon Member : Don’t stand up.

Mr SPEAKER : —and I am standing up. There was an issue that I was going to raise later in the day. There are, frankly, no rules around the use of cell phones by members while they are in this House, but for the benefit of Mr Mallard and for all members, I think that is starting to create some difficulties where we impose very stringent rules on the way the press gallery is allowed to photograph members in this House. It is going to be very difficult for any Speaker to enforce those rules if we have a carte blanche arrangement here in the House when members are using phones to photograph others. But in simple answer to your question, this issue, Mr Mallard, has yet to be addressed.

Brendan Horan : I seek leave to table a letter I received from a 76-year-old pensioner who has been in New Zealand for 40 years and would lose—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. The document has been suitably described for the House to decide whether it wants it tabled. Leave is sought to table this particular letter. Is there any objection? There is.

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