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Q+A Panel Discussion - In response to John Brogden interview

PANEL DISCUSSIONS
HOSTED BY SUSAN WOOD

In response to John Brogden interview

SUSAN WOOD
Welcome back to the panel. Raymond Miller, Annette Sykes, Fran O’Sullivan and Corin. You remembered to join us at the end.

CORIN DANN
I did indeed.

SUSAN Good. Robert Muldoon.

DR RAYMOND MILLER - Political Scientist
Right.

SUSAN Yes. That decision. We had a superannuation scheme, and he axed after, I think, a year. It was 1974 or ’75. Is that the worst political decision ever?

RAYMOND I think it has to be up there, certainly. I mean, Australia’s had this for 20 years. We introduced it almost 40 years ago. Today, it would probably be worth, they estimate, around $240 billion. It lasted only a matter of months. We had a referendum in the 1990s on compulsory super. We rejected that. And then, of course, the government stopped investing in KiwiSaver when it came into power in 2008. So the problem has been, really, it’s been a political football for 40 years. You need cross-party agreement, otherwise you have a system that is going to be sadly deficient.

SUSAN No sign or indication that any of the parties are talking to each other about our retirements, though.

ANNETTE SYKES - Mana Party President and Lawyer
And the sad thing for Maori is that we don’t even get the pension, most of us. We have the reality that many of our people don’t get to 65. And on the current statistics, you need to have us at 60 to get a benefit, and we are in the poor that are the least likely to be able to provide the $200,000 that’s estimated that each individual alone will need to augment the benefit. It’s a real problem. It needs a cross-party solution, and it needs it fast. I think National and Labour should be looking at what that gentlemen just suggested - perhaps increasing the contributions to KiwiSaver to 9 per cent and then really making a change in the way we tax in this country so that we actually try and provide some access to those that are less likely to get it at the moment.

SUSAN And interesting, Fran, we’ve got a Prime Minister who has put his job on it. 65.

FRAN He should go. He should go. I mean, seriously, it’s not a matter of him versus the rest. It’s a matter of New Zealanders being provided for. Now, I think prime ministers shouldn’t do that. I mean, he makes it about himself. He should be thinking about everybody else, and this is a very selfish position by this government. There’s nothing to stop them bringing in compulsory superannuation. At the moment, it’s opt in, but it should be totally compulsory. It should be starting at about 6 per cent, ramping it up over a period of time. And this absolute nonsense that gets funnelled out by the government totally contrary to what the Treasury is saying through its long-run fiscal projections. I mean, the government needs to savvy up on this.

CORIN DANN
But in terms of John Key, it’s about trust for his government, and he believes that if he was to renege on that promise, that would be an erosion of trust in his government. He can’t go back on that.

FRAN It’s an erosion of responsibility.

SUSAN The polls actually show people are ok with the age going up.

FRAN He could have taken it to the last election.

CORIN But it seeps through to other issues, and it will be seen as him, in the eyes of some, and it will be manipulated by the likes of Winston Peters as a breach of that trust, and therefore why would you trust him on anything else? I’m just saying that’s his argument.

FRAN He had a second term, and he took asset sales. He could have taken this to the public as well.

SUSAN Local body elections. Of course, we’ve had those overnight. Annette, let me bring you in there. Pathetic turnout, really. A third of us bothered to vote.

ANNETTE It’s really alarming that the 18 to 30 group are completely disenfranchised. Here, as the largest Polynesian city in the country, I struggle to see a person of colour in the governance council that’s been elected overnight. It’s a huge issue. If we’re going to continue to have this apathetic response, then I’m looking at some kind of solution, like compulsion to ensure that anyone registered over 18 must vote. And until we do that, I think we’re going to have this malaise.

RAYMOND I agree, but, I must say, it was a devil of a job filling out the various forms.

SUSAN It was a pain in the neck.

RAYMOND And all these independents, and you don’t know what they’re promising and whether they’ll ever deliver on anything. It’s like going back - I wasn’t alive then, of course - but going back to the 1800s with their independents and factions, and it needed a party system to actually bring order to the whole thing. And people this week have been saying maybe we should reintroduce parties so at least people know they’re voting for.

CORIN Well, look at the Greens and how well they did in Wellington. They’ve done very well. A number of seats and obviously the mayor back, Celia Wade-Brown, but maybe with their organisation and the fact that people knew what they were getting, they seem to have benefitted.

SUSAN But National, Fran, wouldn’t even look at Auckland. Maurice Williamson, when he was looking at a tilt at the Auckland mayoralty, ‘National will not get involved in local body politics.’

FRAN Well, I mean, I guess they try and control the scrum from Wellington, to a large degree, you know, over the projects. At the end of the day, central government is still the big funder of Auckland, so it has a lot more clout that you don’t think of.

SUSAN Annette, electronic voting. Do you think it will get the young voting, do you think it will get Maori voting?

FRAN It’s got everybody on Facebook, but it doesn’t actually get them to participate in democracy. So I agree education is the key. All the glossy pamphlets didn’t help you understand the calibre of the candidacy and doesn’t actually mobilise people to vote. So there needs to be something else.

RAYMOND And I think maybe reintroduce a polling day, because at least it turns it into an event. Otherwise people just shove the forms in the bottom drawer and don’t ever take them out.

SUSAN And you’ve got two systems going. You’ve got First Past the Post and a preferential one, and I’m hearing this morning on the radio news a lot of people stuffed up the health board, as, I must confess, I did. I was in a hurry. (CHUCKLING) I know. Isn’t that pathetic. It’s pathetic I got it wrong.

CORIN The problem is leaving the envelopes on the bench and then almost forgetting to send them.

SUSAN Yes, exactly.

ENDS

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