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Only Labour will pay decent pension - Clark

2000 web site"Anyone with an elderly parent or grandparent and anyone near retirement or planning to retire in New Zealand has a lot at stake in these elections," Labour Leader Helen Clark told Grey Power meetings in Havelock North and Napier today.

"We have been crunching the numbers and I can report that the married rate for New Zealand Superannuation will be at least $22 a week higher after three years of Labour Government than it would be under a National-Act coalition.

"Superannuation is an area of sharp policy difference between Labour and the parties of the political right. We are committed to reversing National's 1999 superannuation cuts and restoring the floor of the married rate to 65 per cent of the average, after tax, ordinary time weekly wage. The single rate will be adjusted in line with that.

"National has cut the floor to 60 per cent while Act would effectively abandon any wage relativity, instead adjusting New Zealand Superannuation only for inflation.

"Stretch those policies out over the next ten years and by 2010, the married rate paid by Labour would be at least $35 a week higher than under National and at least $75 a week higher than under Act's plans," Helen Clark said.

"I keep saying at least because these figures assume no further cuts to benefit entitlements whereas in fact such cuts are almost inevitable under either National or Act. National is hiding behind the Superannuation Taskforce until after polling day, but the Prime Minister has already signalled that she believes further cuts are needed - either by raising the age of eligibility above 65, reducing the value of the base pension or imposing some form of surcharge or means-test.

"And Act would have to slash into superannuation, health and education to fund its tax cuts for the wealthy," Helen Clark said. "Labour by contrast will restore the 65 per cent wage floor and put New Zealand Superannuation on to a sustainable basis by moving to a dedicated tax and fund regime.

"The status quo is not an option this election. Under Labour, New Zealanders can look forward to stronger support in their retirement. Under a National-Act coalition, our senior citizens would be sacrificed to give the Prime Minister and other high income earners large weekly tax cuts - and New Zealand society would be forever changed for the worse.

"The New Zealand tradition of equality would become a distant memory as the gap between the haves and the have-nots expanded out beyond even United States' proportions.

"The choice is clear. Protect the quality of your own and future generations' retirement by giving your party vote to Labour," Helen Clark said.

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