Wednesday, 9 October 2013

10 October 2013
The greatest football game in town kicked off again this week – and I am not referring to the epic All Blacks/Springboks test at Ellis Park last weekend.
Rather, it is the ongoing Superannuation football, which has been a tedious, unresolved struggle between National and Labour for the last 40 years. The latest round kicked off this week with the release of the Retirement Commissioner’s periodic review of superannuation policy.
And all the traditional responses were there, as predictable as ever. The Retirement Commissioner was preaching the normal doom and gloom unless the eligibility age was lifted. The Prime Minister and National were saying it is staying at 65, and that is that. Just as predictably, Labour wants it to be 67, and not to be outdone New Zealand First had to allege it was all a conspiracy with the private pensions industry to privatise the state’s superannuation obligations. Greypower was, as it is with everything these days, just outraged and opposed.
For the spectators in the grandstand, who have the greatest stake in the outcome, and who are literally growing old waiting for some resolution, it was all just like it has been ever since this test series was kicked off by Norman Kirk back in 1973. Same old, same old, with nothing changing and uncertainty remaining.
And just like the stodgy IRB over the years, the Retirement Commissioner did not even look at some of the innovative ideas the spectators are interested in. UnitedFuture’s Flexisuper proposal, which according to some polls is the most popular future option by far, and which the government is currently consulting upon, was not even mentioned in the Report, and the question of making Kiwisaver compulsory – as it should be – was literally kicked for touch.
So, sadly, this now rather pointless test series looks set to carry on into the future, just as it has in the past. Statistics will continue to be collected and quoted knowingly. Yet the various players will stick to same old tactics and stratagems. Nothing will change. Lost opportunity will be lamented by everyone. The spectators will steadily come to the realisation that they need to look out for themselves, because no-one else is likely to.
And the cynic will conclude, that maybe that was the way it was meant to be, after all


  1. I will be 54 this December and that makes just 11 years left for me to work if I ever recover well enough from my current illness. I would be happy to retire at 60 if UnitedFuture gets the vote to change the 'football goal posts'. I would be happy to hand over work to the much needed of this younger generation. I would be happy to do charity work instead. I would also be happy to join Kiwisaver if I was working as my contribution to retirement living.

    Perhaps Peter, You might actually change a 40 year history here. I believe you might actually do it!

  2. "FlexiSuper offers a number of advantages. For Māori, Pasifika and other groups with shorter post retirement life spans it offers some dignity in their last years. For those who might wish to work longer, they can look forward to a greater nest egg when they retire and pick up an increased rate of superannuation after 65. For everyone, it offers greater choice in retirement income planning."

    While I'm supportive of giving FlexiSuper consideration, I'm still wary of any attempt to paint it as a great thing for Māori and Pasifika - especially if the best thing you can say is "Well, if your life expectancy is low then you'll at least get something this way".

    Quentin may be happy to retire at 60 and that is great. I would assume that he would be able to take that choice because he's comfortable that his financial status at that time would cover any reduced level of superannuation he might receive.

    Choice, as I proposed in a comment on the previous blog post, is not all that easy or open to people in tight financial circumstances. Whatever the cause of their financial status, the choice to retire early may not be as easy for those who would likely see hardships reducing from full time income to a reduced super. For a significant number of Māori and Pasifika, I'm sure that's the case.

    The shorter life expectancy "win" for M&PI is a bit of a joke; if they take the reduced super early they'll struggle, if they aim for the higher late super they might die before hand. Either way, that's not really choice. Not in the way Quentin may get to exercise it, anyway.

  3. inb4 anyone starts labeling me a problem finder, not a problem solver.. FlexiSuper is a great idea and could be made an option for all when matched with a generation that strongly got behind their own Kiwisaver savings. But we're not there yet. I don't know how long that will take, but there's many that will find it tough if chucked in now.

    I'm 26. Increase my tax, take the money you need now from somewhere else.. I don't know. Superannuation is a legitimised ponzi scheme anyway, right? Do what you need to in order to make FlexiSuper viable for all in *future*. That's all I ask.

    (Well, that.. and never again try to sell the idea to Maori/Pasifika that it's a good policy for them because they die earlier)