8th July 2016
Recent developments with Auckland Transport where the new HOP card scheme for free public transport of SuperGold holders was introduced on July 1 although initially very disappointing now look promising.
The Auckland Transport HOP card comes with a fee and appears to undermine an undertaking by Transport Minister Hon Simon Bridges that there would be no changes to the principle of free off peak times. I have raised that matter with the Minister of Transport Hon Simon Bridges and have an arrangement to meet with him in August.
However, I am of the view that the Auckland shambles was not created by him or his department and he is entitled to the opportunity to address that issue but it may well be too late to turn things around.
I have also had a discussion with Seniors Minister Hon Maggie Barry and explained to her that, in my view and the view of the Grey Power Federation, the Auckland Transport scheme destroys the concept of free off peak travel as promised to us by Government and sets a dangerous precedent for other areas of the country. We have also attempted to discuss the matter with Auckland Transport, but they have refused to engage with us.
Hon Maggie Barry has assured me that the best way forward is to pursue a smart card option for the SuperGold card. This is something that the Minister has been considering for some time now and has been working on it as quickly as technology allows. A smart SuperGold card would allow access to free off-peak travel to be compatible nationwide without the need for a HOP card or anything similar. However, before this happens there needs to be certainty that such a card will work seamlessly with the minimal disruption to Seniors around New Zealand.
The option to turn the SuperGold card into a full ID card is still some way off and we have agreed that this option can be left to the future. This will allow the technicians to move much quicker with a SuperGold smart card for off-peak free travel. This option will also require all major transport companies to adopt the same smartchip technology. This will be an added complication. It is not insurmountable but it will take a little time to work through.
As an interim measure therefore I have asked Hon Maggie Barry to proceed with the free travel smart card option only as a matter of urgency and she has promised she should be able to make a public announcement on time frames etc in the next few months.
Given the positive reception to my request, firm assurances and my meeting with both Ministers in August during a very busy parliamentary schedule can I ask all members to give me and our two relevant Ministers time to work through this very complex issue without further public pressure?
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Grey Power’s Aims and Objectives
- To advance, support and protect the welfare and well being of older people.
- To affirm and protect that statutory right of every New Zealand resident, to a sufficient New Zealand Superannuation entitlement.
- To strive for a provision of a quality Health Care to all New Zealand residents regardless of income and location.
- To oppose all discriminatory and disadvantageous legislation affecting rights, security and dignity.
- To be non aligned with any political party, and to present a strong united lobby to all Parliament and statutory Bodies on matters affecting New Zealanders.
- To promote and establish links with kindred organizations.
- To promote recognition of the wide-ranging services provided by senior citizens of New Zealand.
- To gain recognition as an appropriate voice for all older New Zealanders.
Grey Power Achievements
Brief Overview of some results that Grey Power have been effective in achieving.
- Removal of the Surtax
- Asset Testing Legislation being Phased Out
- Lower doctors’ Fees
- Lower Pharmacy Fees
- Removal Over 80’s Driving Tests
- Removal Simulated Driving Tests by Occupational Therapists
- Lower Tariff Electricity
- Superannuation Increased to 66% NATOTWW
- Rate Rebate Scheme re-vitalised
- Independent Superannuation & Income Centres
- Improved Regulations for Rest Homes
- Code of Practice for Rest Homes
- Abolition of Interest on Student Loans
- The National Superannuation Adjustment for the Tax Cuts in the 2008 Budget is a long awaited recognition by a major political party of the plight of the elderly reliant on NZ Superannuation
- Hearing aid subsidy increased
- Rates Rebate Scheme indexed to CPI. Amount now $580 (originally $500) and threshold now $23,240 (from 20,000 originally)
- Spot Audits for Rest Homes
- Retention of Graduating Doctors – (Student Loan)
- Lowering Electricity Increase for ETS
- Retention of SuperGold Card Off-Peak Travel
- Retention of SuperGold Card Waiheke Island Ferry Travel
The Student Loan achievement was recognised in a letter from the Co-President of the NZ University Students Association, Connor Roberts, and also by the Prime Minister in an address to the Students Association in 2006.
We are also mindful of the fact that there are many gains still to be made and that our members can be assured of our continued efforts on their behalf.
In addition to the above, Grey Power has been successfully involved in many outside committees in Energy and Health in particular. Hard of Hearing, Disability committees, NZ Specifications for conditions in Rest Homes,Community Support Services Industry Training Organization (CSSITO) for conditions for Home Care and Rest Home Workers, Health of the Older Person, (HOOP) and Electricity Commission Committees to give a few examples.