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Peters: Entitlement Cards Speech

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Associate Minister for Senior Citizens

6 December 2006
Speech Notes

Social Security (Entitlement Cards) Amendment Bill
First Reading Speech


Madam Speaker, I move that the Social Security (Entitlement Cards) Amendment Bill be now read a first time.

At the appropriate time, I intend to move that the Bill be considered by the Social Services Committee; that the Committee report finally to the House on or before 5 April 2007, and that the Committee have authority to meet at any time while the House is sitting except during oral questions, and during any evening on a day on which there has been a sitting of the House, and on a Friday in a week in which there has been a sitting of the House, despite Standing Orders 192 and 195(1)(b) and (c).

Madam Speaker, this Bill is the next steppingstone in the process of making the Supergold Card, launched last month, a reality. This card was a central feature of New Zealand First's Confidence and Supply agreement with the government, and the purpose of this Bill is to enable the full potential effect of the card to occur.

The Supergold Card is a concession card for the nearly 540,000 New Zealand residents who are aged 65 or over, or who otherwise qualify for and receive New Zealand Superannuation, including non-qualified spouses, or a Veteran's Pension.

It will be available from August 2007 and will provide negotiated commercial discounts from participating businesses, and will help facilitate seniors’ access to concessions on government and local authority services.

Part 1 of the Bill makes two amendments to section 132A of the Social Security Act 1964. This is the section of the Act that enables regulations to be made for the issue of entitlement cards.

The first amendment in Part 1 will allow regulations to be made for cardholder photographs to be placed on entitlement cards. This will enable the government to provide cardholders with the choice of having their photo on the Supergold Card, which will be useful for those who do not have photo ID.

The second amendment in Part 1 will enable regulations to be made allowing a microchip to be embedded on entitlement cards, containing the same information as can currently be contained on a magnetic stripe.

This will allow the future possibility of embedding a microchip in the Supergold Card, should this prove to be useful for cardholders. It is in essence future- proofing the capability of the Supergold Card.

Part 2 of the Bill amends Schedule 1A of the Births, Deaths, and Marriages Registration Act 1995. This amendment will allow births, deaths and marriages information to be used by the Ministry of Social Development to verify entitlement to the Supergold Card.

Madam Speaker, the Supergold Card is an important initiative that will provide tangible benefits that will make a real difference to the lives of senior citizens, in recognition of the contribution they have made – and currently make – to New Zealand society.

The Supergold Card will be sent automatically to people receiving New Zealand Superannuation or a Veteran’s Pension, with a special version going to war and emergency service veterans.

The Supergold Card will be credit card sized. It will carry the cardholder’s name, client number, and will indicate whether they receive New Zealand Superannuation, a Veteran’s Pension and Community Services Card benefits.

It will replace the Community Services Card and Super Card for senior citizens. People who currently hold those cards will be able to access their entitlements through the Supergold Card, and other government concessions may be added later.

A dedicated Supergold Card website, 0800 phone number, and printed directory will promote the range of concessions and discounts available to cardholders across the country, from central government, local authorities and businesses.

The large number of seniors who will be eligible for the Supergold Card represents a valuable, loyal and rapidly growing market for businesses to be involved in. Already several large companies have expressed a strong desire to be involved in offering business discounts.

Their enthusiasm at this early stage bodes well for the Supergold Card rapidly becoming a valuable discount card for seniors.

The experience in Australia, where States have successfully implemented similar seniors’ cards over the past decade, is also very encouraging. Discounts there have built up steadily year-by-year as more businesses have recognised the value of such cards.

The amendments contained in the Bill will add to the value of the Supergold Card by maximising its potential uses, including offering cardholders the option of including their photograph on their card.

Let me also thank the Minister for Senior Citizens Ruth Dyson for her enthusiasm for this card, and for her own work and that of her office in assisting in the work needed to make this happen.

This is a great development for our seniors.

This card has so much potential to make our seniors lives better.

This card is about promises kept by New Zealand First.

This card is about a genuine effort to recognise the contribution our seniors have made and continue to make.

This card is about looking after ordinary New Zealanders who have served this country well.

But ultimately this card is our way of saying we have heard your call for help, and here is something real and tangible to make your lot better.

That, after all, is the New Zealand way.

Madame Speaker, I commend this Bill to the House.

ENDS

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