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“Stop denying the undeniable”

18 August 2005

“Stop denying the undeniable” Grey Power tells Government

“The government has been short-changing married superannuitants by almost $230 a year, which is not only breaking the promise made in 2001, but is also in violation of the Superannuation Act 2001,” says Grey Power Federation Board member Don Robertson of Palmerston North. Mr Robertson is also chair of Grey Power’s Superannuation and Taxation committee.

“What’s worse,” Mr Robertson says, “the highest ranking members of Cabinet keep denying any underpayment, in spite of the publicly available facts and figures. The Government needs to stop denying the undeniable.”

New Zealand Superannuation is set with a base minimum level of 65 per cent of the net average ordinary time weekly wage paid to married couples. Single superannuitants living alone receive 65 per cent of the married couples rate.

Earlier this month, a private petition presented to Parliament by a member of Grey Power asked for a catch-up payment to cover the difference between what pensioners receive, and the minimum level required by law. Social Development Minister Steve Maharey rejected the petition as being “incorrect,” saying “the annual average rate since 2000 has never fallen below (the minimum level). If it had,” Mr Maharey said, “the annual adjustment on April first would have brought it back to above 65 per cent.”

“This is completely incorrect,” Mr Robertson says. “The level of superannuation received is almost always below the minimum required. The increased level paid on April first, comes from figures tabulated in December, taking no account of any increase in wages or the Consumer Price Index during the first quarter of the year, so by the time any increase is actually received, wages and prices have outpaced the amount of the adjustment.

“More recently, wages have been rising faster than the CPI, which again, keeps superannuation even further below the promised 65 per cent. Grey Power members have pointed out these anomalies personally to Senior Citizens Minister Ruth Dyson, and even Prime Minister Helen Clark both of whom abruptly dismissed our concern.”

“This is strange,” says Don Robertson, “given Finance Minister Michael Cullen grudgingly accepted superannuation could at times drop below the minimum level. The only real remedy is for the Government to compensate what is both legally and morally overdue.

“Grey Power is not asking for any more money than has already been promised. But the missing $230 a year could go a long way toward paying the power bill during winter.”

The rate of superannuation and especially any default in payment is one of the two major concerns of Grey Power members. The other is the cost and regulation of energy.

Grey Power maintains neutrality during the election campaign, but responds with support and information that affect its members. Boasting more than 90,000 active members, NZ Grey Power is recognised as a leading support organization for many of the three-quarters of a million retired New Zealanders.

ENDS

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