Speech: When New Zealand was all about fairness
Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
Member of Parliament for Northland
20 MAY 2016
Speech by New Zealand First Leader and MP for Northland Rt Hon Winston Peters
Levin Memorial Hall
Corner of Queen Street and Chamberlain Street
1.30pm, Friday, 20th May, 2016
“When New Zealand was all about fairness”
New Zealand First is a party that believes in fairness.
Whilst our political opponents now think fairness is some lofty, idyllic unachievable goal. New Zealand First does not.
We believe in a fair go for all New Zealanders.
In 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian David Hackett Fischer wrote a book, Fairness and Freedom: A History of Two Open Societies – New Zealand and the United States.
He analysed how the two countries evolved differently in spite of sharing many characteristics.
His conclusion was Americans value freedom and liberty above all else.
New Zealand, on the other hand, he said, values the principles of fairness and social justice.
Sadly, ladies and gentlemen, New Zealand First believes we have moved away from those principles.
We are becoming less and less a country which holds fast to fairness and social justice.
An example of just how New Zealand First values this principle of fairness is how we worked hard to introduce the SuperGold Card.
We consider the SuperGold Card one of New Zealand First’s finest accomplishments.
Those opposed to it threw everything at us trying to prevent it being introduced.
But the SuperGold Card came in.
Ever since then we’ve been engaged in a battle with the government to keep the card.
The National Government has never liked the SuperGold Card and they hate funding it.
You will be aware that as from July 1 SuperGold Cardholders who want to take advantage of free off peak public transport or travel, will have to buy smartcards.
The government has capped transport funding which means if there’s a funding shortfall, then local authorities will have to pay.
You don’t have to be Einstein to know what this government is up to.
They’re trying to erode the SuperGold Card.
Enormous social good has come from the SuperGold Card, helping seniors get out and about and engaging in their communities, and discount buying from thousands of businesses.
Too bad, says the government.
So let’s not beat around the bush; the National Government’s record means it wants it scrapped. They tried and failed in 2010. But like rust they never sleep.
And they are back trying it again.
In contrast we want the card’s benefits expanded, to reach seniors from provincial areas, such as here in Levin and Horowhenua.
People from provincial areas ask us, what’s in the card for us, we can’t get free off-peak travel, so what can the card offer us?
There are over 8,000 businesses and more than 12,500 outlets nationwide where the SuperGold Card can be used.
This is good but New Zealand First says the card’s benefits should be extended even further.
This has to happen because most senior citizens live in provincial areas.
The number of people aged 65 and over living in New Zealand is 11.7 per cent. In Auckland the average is also 11.7 per cent.
That average living in Horowhenua is 24.5 per cent.
In Coromandel it’s 28 per cent; in Kapiti it’s 26 per cent.
Senior citizens in these areas, and in Horowhenua, should be getting more from their SuperGold cards.
That is why New Zealand First has its SuperGold Health Check Bill which will give three free health checks to keep thousands of people out of hospital by catching problems early
You might recall National poured scorn on the bill.
They showed appalling disrespect for over 600,000 Kiwi Seniors.
They dismissed a sound preventative scheme that would pay its way by keeping people out of hospital.
They ignored Grey Power who said many people had to suffer in their homes, depressed and anxious, worrying about how they could afford to go to a doctor.
They ignored what the Conservative Cameron government in the United Kingdom achieved by providing a National Health Service Health check for people turning 65.
The UK Government estimated savings to the Health budget of around £57 million over four years, rising to £176 million over a fifteen-year period.
Our bill failed, narrowly I might add, because the National Government didn’t want it.
But we won’t give up.
We will bring our bill back to Parliament.
And to extend the SuperGold Card further we will keep calling for a 10 per cent discount on power bills for all card holders during the winter months from May to October.
And while on this subject of power bills, New Zealand First also says it’s time the power went back into the hands of the people.
This monetarist government chooses to forget and ignore that it was the New Zealand taxpayer who built the sustainable hydro power plants we all rely on today.
Yet today taxpayers are held captive by power companies interested only in working for the best interest of their investors; trying to maximise profits.
We want to restore sense and fairness into power generation and transmission.
And we will start by bringing Meridian, Mighty River Power and Genesis back into full state ownership.
We are committed to buying back the shares of the state-owned energy companies sold by this National Government.
These are our policies; our policies are positive.
We will extend the SuperGold Card.
• New Zealand First has fought long and hard for NZ Super.
• New Zealand First repealed the surtax on Superannuation and legislated for NZ Super to be 66 per cent of the net average wage.
• We legislated to increase NZ Super to 66 per cent of the net average wage.
Though proud of our record we have several concerns.
NZ superannuation and retirement Income (pro-rata entitlement) Amendment bill
One of these concerns is just how generous we are in Super Entitlement Requirements.
There has been a huge increase in the numbers of seniors collecting full NZ Super.
One of the reasons for this is record numbers of Kiwis returning from Australia and Australians migrating to New Zealand
It’s referred to as the ‘reciprocal pension agreement.’
It’s also been called the Trans-Tasman pension time bomb.
In Australia, Kiwis retiring there are means-tested for their pension which is only 25 per cent of the average wage.
Compare that to New Zealand: our NZ Super is 66 per cent of the net average wage.
Is it any wonder hundreds of expat Kiwis and Australians are jumping on planes to New Zealand at age 65, and coming here to live.
Kiwis who have worked in Australia all their working lives and Australians who have never lived or worked in New Zealand can get full NZ Super here as long as they are 65.
In New Zealand, unlike Australia, as long as they are 65, they can also get NZ Super, no questions asked and no means testing.
The flow to this side of the Tasman is predicted to keep rising because in July 2017, Australia will increase their pension age to 65.5 years, and then in six-month increments every 2 years, until it reaches the age of 67 years from 1 July 2023.
Applicants from Australia only have to be resident in New Zealand on application and reside in New Zealand six months and one day per year.
Australia is not so generous.
In 2001 they changed their laws overnight to shut out Kiwis from most social security in Australia.
Their attitude did not display much of the Anzac spirit.
Why then can’t New Zealand change the ease of access to our NZ Super?
New Zealand First says we must urgently re-examine Super reciprocal agreements.
This applies particularly to the Australian agreement which is heavily weighted in favour of Australians.
We say there must be NZ Super entitlement based on the number of years you are resident in New Zealand.
We believe in being fair about this.
Those expat Kiwis who have lived and worked much of their lives overseas and want to come home to retire, can also keep their overseas pensions and receive New Zealand Super again.
But it must be based on the number of years they have been resident in New Zealand.
New Zealand First will be resubmitting our NZ Superannuation and Retirement Income (Pro Rata Entitlement) Amendment Bill based on residency in New Zealand between ages 20 and 65.
In December 2015 this Bill was voted down in parliament by just a single vote.
We will try again.
We will continue to stand by our policy of retaining entitlement for NZ Super at age 65 with NO means testing.
With our common sense adjustments it is affordable.
We will also reintroduce our Affordable Healthcare Bill which failed to get past its first reading in the House last year.
Labour and the Maori Party supported it but National, the Greens, ACT and United Future did not.
Under this bill we will give a 25 per cent health insurance rebate for people aged over 65.
We will require migrants to have health insurance on arrival and to maintain it in New Zealand for 10 years. That is precisely what the British government promised in the Queen’s address at Westminster yesterday.
And we will remove fringe benefit tax from health insurance to avoid penalising employers who provide insurance for staff.
The bill is all about fairness.
It will take the pressure off our public health system.
It will also correct the present imbalance regarding migrants.
NZ Super/Family reunification
There have been reports recently of elderly Chinese parents who have come here under the family reunification scheme being abandoned by their families in New Zealand
These parents, many of whom can’t speak English, are being left to be cared for by the state, while their children shoot off to live in Australia and elsewhere.
Other parents are being left to fend for themselves after they are no longer needed by their children to look after grandchildren.
The result is the New Zealand taxpayer is footing the bills.
Allowing elderly migrants to get full New Zealand Superannuation after 10 years residency as well as access to free health services care and entitlement for rest home care is putting much stress on health services and the New Zealand economy.
That again is exactly what the British government addressed in the speech from the throne yesterday.
The government needs to wake up and say if you come into New Zealand under parent reunion, your children must take care of you even if your children leave for another country.
After all, that’s exactly what the Chinese government insists on in a recent edict requiring offspring to look after their parents.
Also, the parent migrant category must be capped.
It’s completely unfair for migrants who have been in the country only 10 years, many of whom have never paid tax, to get the same as Kiwis who have lived and worked here all their lives.
In China, they can’t believe how soft we are regarding entitlement for foreign nationals whose time in New Zealand has been so brief. In short we are going to stop being a retirement home for foreign nationals.
It is neither common sense nor fair for you to queue for services that you have paid 45 to 50 years of tax for but be put on a waiting list behind someone who arrived yesterday.
An obvious fact about NZ Super
Ladies and gentlemen, if it was not for New Zealand First the National Government would have made wholesale changes to New Zealand Super.
They would have acted much more regressively than they have thus far.
The reason they have not is that the National party and John Key are dead scared of New Zealand First. That is why they have been so sneaky about the changes thus far.
Changing the way super is assessed
Attacking the transport component of the SuperGold Card
Withholding funding of the Cullen Fund to make tax cuts for the wealthy that government could not afford.
New Zealand First bases its policies on a philosophy of fairness.
As the Pulitzer Prize-winner American historian Fischer said, fairness and a sense of social justice were once the cornerstones of New Zealand society.
Fischer said a sense of fairness once ran “like a bright thread” through governments in New Zealand.
That’s what has been lost. That is what is not happening in New Zealand today.
But it is not lost on New Zealand First.
We believe in giving each New Zealander a fair go.
We want fairness to again run “like a bright thread” through the government of this country.
And if that’s what you want then I ask you to sign up to New Zealand First today and return fairness to New Zealand politics.