The Dom-Post reports on an unusual olive branch being extended:
Labour and the Greens have promised not to attack Prime Minister John Key if he agrees to cross-party talks on the pension age.Mr Key admitted yesterday that National was isolated over the issue but is standing firm, saying lifting the age is "a very simplistic way of looking at a very complex issue".The debate has raged over the last few days with a series of reports questioning the affordability of the current scheme.The Paris-based OECD yesterday warned developed countries must make affordable pension schemes a priority – suggesting 67 "is becoming the new 65".An ANZ bank survey out yesterday revealed people want at least an extra $100 a week above what NZ Super pays out – but about half those of surveyed were not confident they could save enough.It comes in the same week lobby group Financial Services Council said tax rates will blow out by a third as life expectancy rises.Treasury says the cost of NZ Super will be 8 per cent of national income by 2050; the FSC predicts it will be 12 per cent by 2080.
We made our thoughts plain when we blogged about Pete George's BADASS campaign on superannuation earlier in June. Superannuation is the real elephant in the room in New Zealand politics, and the continuation of our superannuation scheme in its present form will be a hugely significant economic issue in years to come.
So it is pleasing to see consensus being advocated; read on:
Labour leader David Shearer pledged not to criticise Mr Key if he softened his stance."The prime minister has boxed himself into a corner. He has closed off options when the public wants to have a proper discussion about it."People are concerned about whether superannuation can continue to exist in its current form into the future."If he was prepared to say 'I'm going to have a discussion about going from 65 to 67,' I would give an undertaking now that we would not politick on that. We would sit down and have a proper discussion on it."The Green Party wants to keep the age of entitlement at 65. But co-leader Russel Norman says the party recognises the fiscal challenges."We are very much open to multi-party discussion. We think that's the best way to settle it if we can reach a cross-party accord, as has been done in the past. Most government decision-making is driven by politics rather than good policy."Dr Norman said Mr Key had "painted himself into a political corner and now he's stuck with it. And it's silly".
We'll admit to a vested interest here. 2020 is the year where it is suggested that changes in the age of entitlement to superannuation may need to kick in. And 2020 is also the year where we will reach the age of 65. So we have something of a stake in this! We don't plan to retire at 65, although by then we may be ready to start cutting back a little. But if the age of entitlement for superannuation is going to start to increase in 2020, we will want to be sure that we have made sufficient independant provision to maintain our income.
We welcome this move by David Shearer and Russel Norman to make superannuation non-political. And we reckon that John Key would be wise to accept the olive branch being offered to him; after all, failure to do so would leave him vulnerable to the two main parties of the Left.
John Key may well have made superannuation a die-in-a-ditch issue. But David Shearer and Russel Norman have thrown him a rope. We hope that he accepts it; superannuation is far too important an issue to continue to be a political football, and cross-party consensus now could indeed produce a solution that will endure regardless of who occupies the Treasury Benches.