From the President’s desk
In spite of several clear explanations that Grey Power is not aligned to any political party, we are still getting requests to join with the New Zealand Seniors Party. In fact, it appears they do not yet have sufficient members to be registered as a political party. However that may be, they seem unable to understand or accept that the Grey Power New Zealand Federation is a non-sectarian and non-party political, advocacy organisation. The only reason we get invitations to speak with senior MPs from all political parties in Parliament is because we are not a political party ourselves. That is too valuable to give away.
There now seems to be an air of desperation in the attempts by New Zealand Seniors Party to persuade us to join them which is probably because they have yet to get sufficient members to register their party before the general elections next year.
Some of their messages to association secretaries are also inaccurate and misleading.
Their latest message includes the bizarre suggestion that the Grey Power Federation Board, which our members elect each year, should be disbanded and a new joint committee be formed to amalgamate Grey Power with their party. That suggests to me that they want to use the Grey Power credibility, as they have little of their own, as well as our membership to boost their numbers.
Most of these people are not NZ born citizens who want to bring their overseas pensions with them to New Zealand and expect to collect our national superannuation as well.
New Zealand is part of an international protocol which prevents this double dipping from happening.
In discussions with the Ministry of Social Development it was explained that, under S70 of the Social Security Act, all New Zealand benefits and national superannuation are reduced by the value of an overseas, state funded, pension. Private funds are not included in those calculations. Where New Zealand national superannuation is paid to a couple their joint incomes from other offshore, state funded pensions are calculated as a single unit. That means the off shore pension of one spouse will affect the New Zealand national superannuation of the other. They accepted that, in the case of a high value offshore pension collected by one spouse it could in fact completely eliminate the New Zealand superannuation of the other. A number of reviews and investigations over many years had failed to address that situation but the basic policy of stopping double dipping is in keeping with Grey Power philosophy.
I had previously invited the leaders of the New Zealand Seniors Party to send us a list of issues they might want to discuss with us, as I would for any other political party. However that has been ignored and they have continued to spread misinformation about Grey Power and continued to attempt to infiltrate associations. That invitation has now been withdrawn and I suggest all associations should simply ignore them as we have much more important issues to be working on.
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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.