PM English has kicked off his superannuation roadshows; Tells Kapiti Chamber of Commerce economic confidence allows for decision to be made now; Takes dig at Aussie super settings

Bill English has kicked off the roadshows to sell National’s superannuation policy to the public, telling an audience that it was easier to announce a rise in the Super age during a period of economic confidence rather than during fiscal hardship.

The Prime Minister even managed to get in a couple of digs at Super policy across the ditch, labelling Australia’s system “complicated” and “unfair.”

Speaking to the Kapiti Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, two of three questions in a Q&A session after English’s address related to the Super policy. (The other, incidentally, regarded cycle-ways: English said he thought former PM John Key’s cycle policy was “a joke” at the time, but that he had since been proved wrong).

Why not move sooner?

One question came from a financial advisor who said she had spent the past week at retirement income seminars around the country: “The overwhelming response to the changes in NZ Super is, why are you waiting 20 years, we need to get this pinned down, we know we need to make this change – let’s just do it,” she said.

That was followed by questions about whether the government would introduce means testing and surcharges. “There’s a lot of fear out there about what’s coming next,” the financial advisor put to English.

English said National believed it had got the balance about right. Going faster and harder in raising the age would create anxiety among people who had already planned their work and income paths towards 65, he said.

“I’ve been the finance minister for eight years. If I thought there was going to be a fiscal crisis – a government spending crisis – because of Super, we would go faster and harder,” he said. “But because the economy has grown better, and more older people are working, it’s less urgent. But it still has to happen.”

English said he was “quite happy to see a public debate about whether we should go farther or faster,” and around the policy in general. The debate and election outcome may mean there was more political agreement on the policy after the election, he said.

With respect to means testing and asset testing, that was not going to happen, he said.

“I think there’s a very broad political consensus that [the] universal system is working. And the evidence it’s working is the increased rate of working [among] older people, which is much higher than it is in Australia.”

Australia had very complicated compulsory Super, with means testing. “It’s no cheaper than our system actually, and more and more of them are knocking off work at 55 at the upper end, but more of the lower income ones have to work longer. In my view it’s an unfair system,” he said.

Good position to tackle the issue from

English had earlier told the Chamber that superannuation was not set to be as big a burden as previously thought due to more older people working. Either in the 65 to 70 age group or 60-65 (he was speaking off the cuff), in the early 1990s 11% of that cohort used to work, and now it was 45%, he said.

Government surpluses meant New Zealand was in a good position to choose how to tackle the issue. “Across in Australia, their debate for the next 10 years will be how to cut spending, because they’ve got big and growing deficits. And it’s not obvious how they’re going to turn that around,” he said.

New Zealand was one of only three countries with unemployment under 5%, government surpluses, falling government debt and an economy growing at 3%, he said. “I think the other ones are South Korea and it might be Iceland. We don’t necessarily want to be like Iceland.”

“We’ve got these surpluses, and this sense of confidence,” he said.

“We were not under real pressure on the government finances, because they’re in good shape. You always make better decisions when you’re not under pressure, and it is a long-term issue so we’ve got a long lead time.”

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20 Comments

All the PM has done is convert me from a swing voter to never voting for National ever again. His roadshow to the chamber of commerce indicates fear by presenting in front of a soft audience.

Sounds like you don't understand what the words 'kicked off' mean. You start with a neutral audience and then progressively address others. Little doesn't go first to the Orewa Rotary club. How you could interpret a standard political approach as indicating 'fear', escapes me.

Bill English is in La La Land "New Zealand was one of only three countries with unemployment under 5%, government surpluses, falling government debt and an economy growing at 3%, he said.
1) unemployment is 5.2% that's not under 5%
2) Government surpluses, easy to achieve when you underfund all major public services, Health,Education, Police Etc, and stop contributing to the super fund and don't pay down any debt.
3) Government debt has been increasing not falling.
4) Economy growing at 3%, he got one right but it's inflated by immigration.

And that last - combined with wide open door to foreign purchases of NZ's housing stock - at a tremendous cost to young and upcoming generations of Kiwis who are ultimately being displaced from their own land.

Wow, .2 of a percent out. That is a massive deception eh. The man should be run out of town for his grotesque lies.

There have been massive increases in infrastructure and public services spending during English's tenure. Crown debt is at a level that many developed countries envy. It'll peak this year and reduce to 20% of GDP by 2020.

Good grief you are are bad at Bill (Not very good with numbers) 5.2% - 0.2 = 5%, that's not under 5% is it?

Ha ha. You should become a professional hair splitter. You are very good at it.

I can do one worse. 0.2%/5.2% = 3.8% difference in Bill Englishes claim ;)

Under, is under, it is not over, so he was 100% wrong, hardly hair splitting

You cannot have a rational discussion with an apologist.

The deception is that they think after running up a huge amount of government debt for many years, they can put a small surplus in and go around saying they are paying off debt. And all the talk about how its going to go down to what level in the future. You can trust that statement like John Key saying they wont put up GST from 12.5%.

Care to outline those "massive increases in infrastructure and public services spending during English's tenure." for us?

I am assuming you mean actual increases above the inflation adjusted per-capita rate they inherited. The only things I can think of doing that are John Key's legacy cycle way project and possibly prisons.

I like to reflect on John Key's statement about raising GST, which sort of says it all:

"If we do a half decent job economically we won't need to raise GST."

Later raised GST.

I always thought BE was the straight shooter and the PM of Parnell was the one who was a bit loose with the truth.
I see now I was wrong on the first point.

It will make more sense if you view the PM as simply a puppet with some very shady figures pulling the strings behind the scenes.

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9 years of power is too much for national to handle and 4th term if elected will be disastrous for average kiwi. This is good enough for me to change my vote from National to anyone BUT National.

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His whole policy to me is just get the publics mind off housing, which is the real problem.

Why don't they now decrease GST back to 12.5% if NZ is now doing so well.

excellent - good point - well stated

It is a pity we don't have a strong opposition party to highlight this.

CAN Bill English and John Key of rhe world still deny :

http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/money/2017/03/new-zealand-housing-most-una...

Deny??? That's a phenomenal sign of success. Who the heck is worried about the average kiwi who can't afford to get onto the property ladder, in order to bring up a stable family!!! The very objective of the NP is for speculators to prosper. Mission Accomplished by BE and JK