From the President’s Desk

Tom O’Connor, National President

owl for website

 

3rd April 2017

New Retirement Age

 

The recent announcement by Prime Minister Bill English, that the age of entitlement for national superannuation would rise from 65 to 67 by 2037, should not have been a surprise to anyone.

For many months prior to the announcement a steady campaign of misinformation and scare tactics about the long term unaffordability of national superannuation, coupled with ill-founded suggestions that the so called baby Boomer generation were “greedy oldies”, were a clear indications that some changes were in the wind.

National superannuation is not a benefit or a charity and amounts to less than 4% of GDP. Even if the amount currently paid doubles over the next twenty years GDP will probably increase by a similar amount or more. To even suggest that those people in physically demanding occupations should carry on working until 67 is simply unacceptable in a country as wealthy as New Zealand.

The proposed new age of entitlement of 67 will only affect people currently younger than 45 and it is these people, our children and grandchildren we are concerned about, not ourselves.

The generation now in their retirement years and the one before them built the hydro dams, steel mills and the industrial infrastructure which underpins todays thriving economy. Certainly they earned good wages but they worked hard in dangerous industries and paid massive taxes, up to 33%, to fund those developments. Many did not live long enough to collect national superannuation and that includes high numbers Maori and Pacifica people A portion of the big taxes they paid was, supposedly, set aside, by agreement with Government and matched with a Government contribution, to fund national superannuation. The Government suspended payments into the scheme in 2008 and still gave the pension to immigrants after only ten years residency in New Zealand so it is a bit rich to now suggest the scheme is unaffordable.

Those people looking for someone to blame for the serious economic ills faced by some sectors of the community today should look to the successive governments who have sold off New Zealand’s heritage to the highest bidder not the older generation who created that heritage. Many of those who accuse the older generation of taking everything and leaving nothing for those who follow don’t know what hard work and hardship is and they seem to know very little about working for the good of the community. When we, in Grey Power, negotiate with government for better access to health care and the continued viability of national superannuation we are doing it for those who will follow us into retirement in the years ahead.

Lifting the age to 67 has the potential to create more problems than it will solve, if indeed there are problems to solve. What hasn’t been announced, yet, is how those people in physically demanding jobs will survive. It is simply unreasonable and unnecessary to expect these people to remain in full work until they are 67. Bodies wear out well before that age for many people.

Age is not a disability and these people should not be dependent on a benefit. Social benefits are too easily discounted and reduced by all manner of rules and regulation which do not, and must never, be applied to national superannuation or those too old to work.

It is unlikely that any government decision today will bind a government twenty years in the future but we have an obligation to ensure there is proper provision made for those who reach retirement in twenty years time as previous generations ensured there was provision for us twenty years and more ago.

I have already made my disappointment at the lack of consultation known b u the door is still open for further discussions. We have a firm policy to retain a state-funded, universal, non-means tested pension payable at age 65 years. Any changes to that policy can only be made at our AGM in May and I have made provision for a detailed debate on the subject on the agenda. Hopefully, by that time, there will be more details of how the new system will work and we will need to do more listening and careful thinking before deciding on how we will respond.

 

 

Tom O’Connor

President

Grey Power Federation

 

 

 

 

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Welcome to Grey Power New Zealand

Grey Power’s Aims and Objectives

  1. To advance, support and protect the welfare and well being of older people.
  2. To affirm and protect that statutory right of every New Zealand resident, to a sufficient New Zealand Superannuation entitlement.
  3. To strive for a provision of a quality Health Care to all New Zealand residents regardless of income and location.
  4. To oppose all discriminatory and disadvantageous legislation affecting rights, security and dignity.
  5. 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.
  6. To promote and establish links with kindred organizations.
  7. To promote recognition of the wide-ranging services provided by senior citizens of New Zealand.
  8. 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.

  1. Removal of the Surtax
  2. Asset Testing Legislation being Phased Out
  3. Lower doctors’ Fees
  4. Lower Pharmacy Fees
  5. Removal Over 80’s Driving Tests
  6. Removal Simulated Driving Tests by Occupational Therapists
  7. Lower Tariff Electricity
  8. Superannuation Increased to 66% NATOTWW
  9. Rate Rebate Scheme re-vitalised
  10. Independent Superannuation & Income Centres
  11. Improved Regulations for Rest Homes
  12. Code of Practice for Rest Homes
  13. Abolition of Interest on Student Loans
  14. 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
  15. Hearing aid subsidy increased
  16. Rates Rebate Scheme indexed to CPI. Amount now $580 (originally $500) and threshold now $23,240 (from 20,000 originally)
  17. Spot Audits for Rest Homes
  18. Retention of Graduating Doctors – (Student Loan)
  19. Lowering Electricity Increase for ETS
  20. Retention of SuperGold Card Off-Peak Travel
  21. 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.

Visual Personality of Organisation

  • Strong and active but not militant
  • Friendly and mature
  • Acting with dignity and integrity
  • Having the wisdom of age
  • Adding to quality of life
  • A positive organisation to be associated with

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