Peters: Protect and Save Our Senior Citizens
9th October 2008
Rt Hon Winston Peters address to Kapiti Grey Power, Southwards Car Museum, Otaihanga Road, Paraparaumu, Wellington at 10am, 9th October 2008
“Protect and Save Our Senior Citizens”
Good morning – it is good to be back here and it gives me a great deal of pleasure to support our New Zealand First Otaki candidate Dr Scott.
He is a district councillor and well known for his work and leadership with Grey Power.
We are honoured to have him as a candidate.
On a lighter side, let me give you an assurance that neither Dr Scott nor I will be making any rash promises about easing what has been reported as a “man drought” in the Kapiti area.
We are just outside the 15-39 age group which is apparently the target zone for women seeking a man in this area.
However, a young man did accompany me out here and if we get enough votes pledged here today, we might send him back here after the election!
Our campaign slogan this election is “Protect and Save Your New Zealand” and that flows on to our policy of protecting and saving our senior citizens.
Over the past three years we have acted in your best interests.
• Increased superannuation by over $70 a week for married couples and $40 for singles.
• Put more than half a billion dollars extra into eldercare.
• Introduced the SuperGold Card with free off-peak travel on public transport.
• Gained higher subsidies for hearing aids.
• We slowed Labour’s politically correct social engineering agenda.
• Provided 1000 more frontline police staff and 250 support staff to make your communities safer.
But there is a lot more to be done over the next three years.
We still do not believe New Zealand Superannuation is high enough.
We know that there is an economic crisis, and we have plans to deal with that, but this does not mean some of our seniors should wallow in poverty-like conditions.
To increase Superannuation to 68% of the Net Average Wage for married couples, with similar adjustments for singles, will cost around $300 million dollars.
But this is a critical investment in two ways. It helps stimulate the economy because it is a transfer payment (which means the money goes straight back into the economy).
The second and most important is that it reduces costs in other areas like health because it means seniors can afford better heating, food and care, making them less reliant on the healthcare system.
We also want to change the rebate level for those who are non-qualified spouses to bring it into line with the widows’ benefit and raise the rebate from $80 to $100 and ensure it is indexed to the CPI.
And we must deal with the issue of overseas pensions once and for all.
While we secured a review of these and some minor changes, the reality is that the only fair and equitable solution is a 1 in 45 year formula, based on years resident in each jurisdiction.
This is the fairest method of ensuring nobody double dips.
New Zealanders who have lived and worked here all their lives are not disadvantaged, and those who have worked offshore for part of their working life get what they are entitled to.
We believe the SuperGold Card can be even better.
We will introduce a power subsidy of $300 per household with a SuperGold Card over the winter months.
While this is an additional $50 million, again the savings in health and other budgets from having warmer houses more than covers this cost.
We also want to see doctors visits even cheaper for our senior citizens.
While we were happy to secure much needed funding into the eldercare sector there is still much more that needs to be done on this front.
We want to see that the subsidy paid to those in eldercare is indexed to the CPI and that the mechanism is sought to ensure that DHBs pass the full amount on.
We had the disgusting situation in the past year of DHBs holding on to half a percent of the CPI adjustment and not passing it on.
It’s actually a lot of money and our seniors suffer when this occurs.
We must get the planning right in this sector also – we have an ageing population and we must plan for this properly. This must be based on the 2001 PricewaterhouseCoopers report.
We must pay those nurses working in the eldercare sector the same as those working for DHBs.
And we should also pay carers more as well.
While there have been a few high profile cases of despicable carers and elder abuse – the vast majority are quality carers who only want to do the best for those in their care.
Many of you must be concerned about the crisis in the global financial sector.
We have a plan to address it – and it is not just “mine’s bigger than your’s tax cuts”.
We are going to set up a New Zealand Fund to buy back some of the strategic assets flogged off to foreign interests.
This ensures that New Zealand investors keep their money and their profits right here.
We will protect your investments and savings by providing a government guarantee to financial institutions like Kiwibank and the Taranaki Savings Bank.
We’re going to guarantee deposits up to $100,000 in New Zealand owned banks.
And we are going to stop the threat to New Zealand home owners and businesses from usurious interest rates.
There’s no excuse for interest rates to be more than twice the inflation rate, and credit card rates over six times the inflation rate.
It is imported foreign financial garbage masquerading as so-called market forces.
New Zealand First is going to use the state’s credit and loan facilities to drive interest rates dramatically down.
We will stop this outflow of over $4 billion per year profit to foreign owned banks. We’ll start looking after our own people first.
New Zealand owned banks with Government support can cut both mortgage and credit rates to save families, and New Zealand First intends to do just that.
We have seen what greed can do to international financial markets and to ours back home as well.
And whilst we are at it, why are government and local body accounts with foreign banks, so they can clip the ticket on every transaction?
Those accounts should be in a New Zealand owned bank where our economy gets the profits.
New Zealanders are being screwed by foreign owned banks and finance dealers. We will send them a message. We’ve had enough.
Law and Order
We are going to protect your homes and your streets by banning gangs and mounting a war against crime.
For those who want to break the crime habit we will help them with rehabilitation programmes.
The legislation is ready, we have the extra police and they will get whatever powers needed to put the criminals away - until they are too old to commit crimes.
There is a serious health issue for the Kapiti Coast that we have been working on for the past three years.
It is outrageous that more than 200 people a day travel from Kapiti to Wellington hospital for treatment, passing Kenepuru Hospital on the way.
Services at Kenepuru Hospital are being extended but Capital and Coast District Health Board must plan now to meet Kapiti and Porirua health needs so that there are not increasing numbers of people on the move every week.
Kapiti is one of the fastest growing areas in the country and a major retirement district.
But it appears that health planning for this area includes making retired people drive long distances for hospital health care.
If you have paid taxes all your lives you should not be marginalised in your retirement because health facilities are reduced and centralised.
We will not let up on this issue.
We kept hammering the Minister over the 24 hour emergency service at Kenepuru and we will force the issue of increased treatment facilities for senior citizens.
Driving to Wellington all the time is too tough for elderly people. It does not make any sense - the site is so large you could fit the entire health system at Kenepuru!
There is something else we must face squarely during this election.
We are entering turbulent economic times.
Inevitably, the competition for public spending programmes will intensify.
Things could turn ugly.
Glib promises and assurances that nothing will change, no cuts will be made can be readily undone on the pretext that economic conditions have worsened dramatically
And then there is the weight of numbers.
There are now over half a million New Zealanders in what you might call the pension period of their life.
That creates a very large and tempting target – New Zealand Superannuation - for any future “razor gang” looking for areas of public spending to attack.
Ensuring that superannuation is not eroded in a frosty economic climate will take continuing vigilance.
Because given the current rate of inflation, it would take no time at all for the real value of the state pension to be seriously eroded.
We say that all of New Zealander seniors – without exception – should enjoy a comfortable old age.
We know that governments cannot protect citizens from all the perils of life.
Accidents, illness and misfortune can befall anyone.
But what the state must do is ensure that all have sufficient income to live in dignity and comfort.
Even in the tough times ahead that is well within our capacity to provide.
And in New Zealand First you have a sentry on duty – a guardian watching to ensure that the real value of the pension is safeguarded.
There is a Latin inscription that neatly sums up our role:
Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur
Roughly translated – a true friend is discerned in difficult times - or a sure friend in time of trouble.
Well, you have a sure friend in New Zealand First.
Would seniors be wise to put all their trust in National?
Remember the super surcharge? Remember the reduction of superannuation to 60 percent of the net average wage when Bill English was treasurer?
In times of trouble we will make a stand against you being viewed as:
• A separate group
• A group set apart - distinct – detached
• A category of people who constitute “a problem”
It is vital that we don’t fall into this trap.
In this connection New Zealand First’s stance is black and white – like our party colours.
Seniors are us! At the core of our society. You are New Zealand!
You are the people we are in Parliament to serve.
So we know we have a big job to do.
And we make this solemn pledge that we will not let you down in the dark times ahead.
And we will greet the new dawn together.