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New Website Pushes Pensioners’ Issue

New Website Pushes Pensioners’ Issue

Christchurch, 31 July 2010. A new website, www.nzpensionprotest.com, has been launched to lobby against Section 70 of the Social Security Act. Its founders, two women with a mission, want it to be a one-stop information resource for those researching the implications of this piece of legislation that short-changes some 52,000 superannuitants. It is also meant to be a platform for pensioners already affected but lacking a means to get their stories out to the public. Its primary aim, however, is to put the issue back on the political agenda.

The so-called Direct Deduction Policy and the Spousal Provision practice have caused distress not only for many New Zealand immigrants. Born and bred Kiwis returning from working overseas and New Zealanders married to an immigrant with an overseas pension entitlement are equally penalised. Many have paid taxes for years and feel cheated out of their NZ Super.

Superannuitants who receive an overseas pension, mostly from individual contributions to a compulsory pension scheme, get their overseas pension deducted from their NZ Super entitlement. It is even abated against their spouse’s or partner’s rate of NZ super.

“This practice is far from fair”, says Sissi Stein-Abel, Christchurch based freelance journalist and one of the website’s founders. “It’s like confiscating personal savings.” She and her project partner, a public relations professional, have researched and authored most of the website’s content. They have decided to give the issue fresh impetus by using the internet as an effective way of getting their message out. “Web-based marketing tools work. We market a cause and want to spread our message in a viral way. It is the first step to effecting change”, explains Sissi Stein-Abel. The duo’s ultimate goal it is to see Section 70 discontinued. “Politicians don’t want to touch this issue and have been turning a deaf ear for years But the problem won’t just go away because they ignore it. It is a glaring injustice that needs to be addressed urgently.”

While there is compelling, independent policy analysis and recommendations for pension reforms from the Retirement Policy and Research Centre of the University of Auckland’s Business School, the wider public may not be aware of it. “We hope to also reach those people who may feel intimidated by academic papers by presenting relevant content in an easy to read format and a journalistic style”, says Stein-Abel. “The website also wants to clear up some of the myths about NZ Super. One is that it’s a universal pension, another one that it’s not means-tested. It will be a real eye-opener for many.”

Website: www.nzpensionprotest.com

ENDS

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