SPEECH: The New Generation Supergold Card

Bruce Mason Centre, The Promenade, 2pm, Saturday, September 9

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an election being conducted as though there is no tomorrow and no other economy but ours.

There is serious global stress out there which the old parties are not telling you about.

They don’t want to remind you as to who it was that cobbled together our present economy which is such a fragile vessel in a turbulent sea of international competition.

A number of international commentators point to an odd contradiction between financial markets and political developments.

A former US Federal Reserve Chairman is puzzled over the ability of financial markets to ignore deepening political turmoil in Washington and elsewhere.

An advisor to one of Europe’s biggest insurers has a similar concern.

They say there are signs of enormous stress in political systems – but the upheaval and uncertainty has not translated to financial markets.

Can this contradiction persist? There is no crystal ball but a sudden change in mood sentiment can happen in financial markets and the NZ economy is no exception to this trend.

Unlike responsible governments, National has simply used record immigration to hyperventilate the NZ economy, as Labour did.

So NZ is in a vulnerable situation.

And let me warn you. If there is a crisis, the government will be quick to attack superannuation.

They’ll be coming for you first.

A few months ago Grey Power’s national president said all 65,000 members across New Zealand were preparing for political war over NZ Super. Their concern was understandable.

They fear being attacked by political parties who have a history of attacking the income security of older people.

Only one party has never compromised its position on New Zealand Super.

Unlike the other parties we don’t move the goalposts and play political football with NZ Super; we don’t make U-turns. We don’t tell voters one thing and later on say: “Circumstances have changed, we’ve changed our mind.”

But one thing we want changed is the minimum residency requirement to obtain Super. Right now it is just 10 years in New Zealand.

We want that to extend to 25 years. Right now 87,000 have come here in the last 15 years and got full Super after just 10 years.

That’s unbelievably unfair against hard-working taxpayers. And changing up to 25 years is still generous. In Canada its 40 years; the UK 35 years. NZ SUPER FACTS

Here are the facts on NZ Super: Currently, the cost of NZ Super is around 5% gross of GDP – a level that compares very well with many OECD countries. Even by 2060 Treasury estimates NZ Super will still be just under 8% of GDP. And those are gross figures.

As NZ Super is taxed, the actual net cost to the taxpayers is significantly less, at around 3.8 percent.

The fact that NZ Super is taxed is often deliberately ignored.   NZ Super as a percentage of GDP will stay the same even with an ageing population if New Zealand doubles its GDP by 2050. But this can only happen if the population is not artificially inflated by mass immigration.

We cannot continue to take in net 73,000 new immigrants a year – enough for a city the size of Rotorua - as we are now doing.

SECTION 70

New Zealand First is also committed to changing Section 70 of the Social Security Act. This affects a specific group of people who are entitled to an overseas state pension. As a result of section 70, around 70,000 people receiving NZ Super have some level of deduction made. It is wrong and unfair to those affected. NZ First is committed to fixing this.

The Sorry History of NZ superannuation The last 30 years has been a sorry history of NZ superannuation being changed by political parties who promised they would not do that.

From Labour’s claim that anyone saying Labour would change superannuation was “spreading rumour with malice”, through to:

- National’s repeal of the surtax, that Labour put on, “no ifs, no buts, no maybes”, then increasing the surtax to 92 cents in the dollar

-  to National’s busting a coalition agreement to reduce Super down to 60 per cent,

-  to Labour campaigning in 2011 and 2014 to increase the retirement age,

- to National opposing Labour’s age increase plan, and now adopting it;

- to National stopping the Cullen Fund contributions,

-  and then taxing the Cullen Fund earnings.

It’s been one sorry saga of betrayal.

So if there is anyone here that thinks they won’t do that again if they are allowed to, then please reflect on the recent history of those two parties and others on the question of Super.

And it’s the “allowed to” that I want to talk to you about today.

It is New Zealand First that  got rid of the pernicious surtax. It is New Zealand First that took the Super payments back from a low of 60 per cent not to 65 from whence it had dropped but to 66 per cent, and then introduced the SuperGold Card.

SUPERGOLD CARD and NATIONAL’S APATHY

New Zealand First introduced the SuperGold Card 10 years ago.

A letter writer to The Press newspaper in Christchurch this week wrote:

“I am a 78-year-old male Kiwi who has spent all his working life in New Zealand and paid the relevant taxes. Now retired and living in changed circumstances I find that financially living on NZ Super only is very challenging.

“I am very grateful to be living in my own home, receiving the Super and having the Gold Card.

“When I hear of all the proposed new and increased benefits and assistance continually being offered by both the main parties, I believe they have overlooked the need for increased help for the country’s seniors who have played a great part in the growth of this country.”

Here is what someone wrote under a Fairfax article which attacked the Super Gold Card under the headline “Oldie Super Gold Card greed needs to be curbed.”

I thank God for Winston’s Gold card for my 70-year-old single (never married) sister, living alone, just managing to cope. The gold card is her safety. It gets her to places, friends, and activities. She uses it every day. She has no savings and her super pays her rent with almost nothing left over.

New Zealand First has not forgotten the people like this man and  woman who played an important role in growing this country.

It is why we introduced the Super Gold Card and why we have fought for NZ Super. dumped the SuperGold Card years ago – if they could. But they woke up to the fact the card had been hugely successful.

They knew there would be too great a backlash from the voters, so they let it carry on. They kept on sniping though.

FOR SENIORS: UNDERHAND SMART CARD DUMPED  

It’s why we opposed Steven Joyce trying to cut the SuperGold Card travel; concession and why we are going to abolish the sleight of hand despicable demand that SuperGold Card holders buy new smart cards to travel  off peak  on public transport in Auckland.

This sordid attack on older people is going to be repelled.

Seniors Minister Barry has utterly ignored superannuitants on the question of travel but then, in a Grey Power national magazine, this year she had the cheek to say that National had built the Card into the great success it is today.

“We have built the card into the great success it is and National remains absolutely committed to growing its value and usefulness.”

That has got to be most audacious and spurious claims made by a modern politician, but then again you know her better than I do, so you are probably not surprised.

This Election Has Reached a Tipping Point Some parties are so desperate they are saying anything to get your vote;

Amazingly both Labour and National think that we have a strong economy.

That’s astonishing but very insightful because in every area of examination, be it housing, health, education, police numbers, Department of Conservation spend, biosecurity, etc., etc, etc, all have a massive underspend.

That underspending equals a spurious surplus.

And whilst we are at it. The Labour Party’s policy is to build 10,000 houses a year, they claim that is better than National.

Well, work it out.

If 73,000 are coming net to New Zealand every year, how far will 10,000 houses a year go. At four people per house Labour doesn’t even get within coo-ee of building houses for those people getting off the plane, let alone that massive number of people in New Zealand already waiting for a house.

Some commentators say New Zealand is on the brink of a political revolution.

Well we have had those before. A political revolution lasts just as long as other people’s money lasts.

Your money – the taxpayers’ money.

And history is in real danger of repeating itself in New Zealand because thus far none of Labour’s promises have money for anything other than education, health, and some welfare.

It is this environment that New Zealand First is seeking to improve the lives of older people by extending their buying power. Things older people worry about are the same throughout life.

Finances, wellbeing, health care, personal safety, law and order, loneliness. The price of power. The cost of living. 

As people get older, their feeling of being able to control these things change.

Take Macular Degeneration for example.

Did you know that 1 in 7 people over 50 years of age in NZ will get this disease? Going blind when you don’t have to be now preventable if you are detected early.

That’s why we are introducing FREE 3 medical checks and 1 FREE eye test every year for Gold Card members.

It’s our responsibility as politicians, to step in and protect the rights of the aged, and treat them with the respect they deserve and have earned.

The new breed of Robin Hood politicians, see retirees as targets.

Society has made significant strides in reducing pensioner poverty in the past 30 years. Unfortunately, there are still many who are living in poverty.

NZ First wants them to benefit from the collective power of 650,000 plus Gold Card members.

Super Gold Card members contribute over $5 billion to the NZ economy each year.

They also contribute to the economy informally – by caring for their grandchildren and other family members.

We need a cultural shift so young people growing up learn to appreciate and respect the value older people and the many benefits they can bring to society and the workplace. There is evidence of age discrimination in the work place.

We as a nation need to retain and retrain older people. At 25, we worry about what others think about us. At 45, we don’t care what people think of us. At 65, we realise they haven’t been thinking about us at all.

At NZ First we have been thinking about you. We have developed ideas that are going to give you more. More freedom. More benefits. More money. 

What we are going to do for you is simply facilitate a massive commercial connection between 650,000 Gold Card members and business. You, the Gold Card members, are the biggest spending block in the country.

There is over $95 million paid out in Superannuation each week. About $10.146 billion every year. Roughly half of that, is spent on living and consumption. We will provide every Gold Card member, on average, $800 to a  $1000 additional per year, tax free!

How will we do this?

Well, we have something really exciting to show you shortly. Through the new power of the SuperGold Card, you won’t have to go to the retailers, they will come to you. You are New Zealand’s biggest consumer buying group. And you have been ignored for far too long. But not any longer! Ladies and gentlemen, here is the NEW GENERATION SUPERGOLD CARD.