26th January 2017
Issues and options
A number of national and international developments have the potential to cause us some problems and hard work over the next few months and we need to be united and focused on what we do and how we do it.
These developments include the election of Donald trump to the presidency of the United States, the election of Bill English as New Zealand’s Prime Minister and the resurfacing of the New Zealand Constitution conversation, among others.
As was predicted in the long lead up to the election of Donald Trump the United States has now officially withdrawn from the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership Arrangement. (TPPA). While some in Grey Power might be elated at that news, as we were strongly opposed to what little we knew of the international trade treaty, it has not gone away.
Our concerns were the potential loss of access to affordable medications which would probably have impacted on older people more than most others. There were also issues of the loss of New Zealand’s right to make our own laws without pressure from international corporations seeking easy access to the New Zealand market place.
New Prime Minister Bill English has signaled that New Zealand and the remaining signatories to TPPA could proceed with a revised treaty. If that is the case then we need to insist that the big multinational corporations should be sidelined and that the process should include a more open dialogue with the New Zealand public.
Bill English has also indicated at least a review of national superannuation but, so far, few details of his intentions have been released. This issue alone has the potential to bring a major impact on our members and, while our new Prime Minister should be given every opportunity to find his way into the job, we can’t afford to relax and are seeking an early discussion with him.
In the last few weeks the proposed New Zealand Constitution has re-surfaced with all manner of wild and unfounded claims being made about the intentions of Government and some political activists.
The reality is that all the essential components of a New Zealand constitution already exist in several laws. Some of them, such as the Freedom of Information Act (1982), Bill of Rights Act (1990) are relatively well known but other elements can be difficult to find and identify. Pulling them all together into a single, all encompassing, entrenched and supreme document is both logical and long overdue.
Such a constitution would provide certainty for, and prudent constraint on, governments and give confidence and protection for all New Zealanders provided that the constitution could not be amended or repealed without the overwhelming will and mandate of the nation via a binding referendum specifically and solely for that purpose. The fact that some politicians have already said a written, entrenched constitution would be a hindrance to government, suggests it is probably a good idea.
Under a New Zealand Constitution the Government we would have greater protection from political meddling or secret negotiations like TPPA than we have now.
In the lead up to this years general election we can expect pressure from all manner of political groups for Grey Power to support their particular ideas on these issues. We have already had a few last year but there will no doubt be more in the months ahead. It is absolutely essential for us to form our own opinions and policies, not support those of other groups. We may come up with similar ideas but they must be ours, decided by our membership alone. To achieve that it is important for all associations to not allow other groups to foist their ideas on them or make submissions to Government on these matters without letting the Federation office know first. That way we can coordinate our efforts and strength rather than be fragmented, contradictory and easy to ignore.
Grey Power Federation
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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.