PM Key says raising the retirement age not straightforward, as 65 a legitimate age for manual workers, while desk workers could go further

PM Key says raising the retirement age not straightforward, as 65 a legitimate age for manual workers, while desk workers could go further
Older workers in manual jobs would struggle to delay their retirements, Prime Minister John Key said.

Raising the retirement age is not as straightforward as Retirement Commissioner Dianna Crossan is saying, as it would be harder for workers in manual jobs to keep working past 65, Prime Minister John Key says.

Key was replying to renewed criticism from Crossan in the last week that politicians were not doing enough to tackle the issue of an aging population. Crossan is calling for the retirement age to be raised by two months a year from 65 to 67 between 2020 and 2033, a policy Key, and Opposition leader Phil Goff, have repeatedly argued against. See Amanda Morrall's article last week on Crossan's criticisms.

Speaking on TVNZ's Breakfast programme this morning, Key said raising the age wasn't a straightforward exercise.

“If you’re in a desk job, it might be imminently possible that you could work to 66 or 67, and in fact, one in four people do work aged over 65 in some form or another – part time or full time," Key said.

"But actually, if you’re in a manual job, by the time you get to 65, that probably is a very legitimate age to retire. So it’s  not quite as straightforward as saying across the board the age is just going up,” he said.

Asked whether National would look at look at these issues if re-elected, Key said he was comfortable with the current policy settings. However, there were a lot of other issues needed to be addressed in terms of an aging population, he said.

“What she [Crossan] doesn’t talk about is health. So OK, pensions cost a few billion, health costs NZ$14.5 billion and what happens is, as we get older, we consume more healthcare costs," Key said.

“So what [Health Minister] Tony Ryall has done is move a lot of front-line services – more nurses, more doctors, more pharmaceuticals, a lot less in bureaucracy – so that we can actually produce much better results there. There’re a lot of gains to be made there – not necessarily just raising the age," he said.

See Alex Tarrant's December 2010 article on the Retirement Commission's recommendations.

In December 2010, the Retirement Commission made 17 recommendations which it thought should be made to New Zealand's pension scheme, including raising the retirement age by two months a year from 2020 until it reached 67 in 2033.

In parallel to that, the Commission argued a transitional means-tested pension should be introduced for those aged 65 unable to support themselves financially.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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..until after election - ? - another political game by parties in government playing the public.

 Now in difficult times we need more honesty/ accountability coming from the government, dealing with issues - open public debates in the media. It seems the government is divorcing it self increasingly from the public as matters are more complex.

Typical BS strawman arguement from Key. If he is suddenly all concerned that manual workers would be hard done by, then why arent they already allowed to retire a year or so before others as it stands now?

There is not a public pension scheme in the world which distinguishes between the retirement ages of manual versus the others. But there are many, many other national pension schemes in which the retirement age is being raised because of the financial impossibility of maintaining individuals on pensions for 15 plus years.

The retirement commissions proposals are entirely logical (in fact there is an arguemnet they dont go far enough) and spread out as they are, the political fallout should be minimal - and yet Key STILL runs scared.

Anyway - its all moot. The changes will be forced down our throats in due course, and they will be a lot more draconian than is being discussed here.


Agree with your main points Andy but it is not unusual in Europe and the US to have a lower retirement age for certain jobs. In fact we have that here already in our workplace schemes - police and fire service for example and I think it is reasonable for it to aply to the national scheme.

Looking at the macro picture though; we have a big jump in the numbers entering retirement - a doubling over the next 15 - 20 years I believe. That will impose a burden on the remaining workers and resources no matter whether it's funded from taxes or rents, interest and profits from shares. More folk looking to live off rentier type income is little differant, in effect, than taxing the productive.

The impact on the economy will be huge as either way that money has to come from someone, add in higher medical and it's quite unsustainable with prevailing expectations. I think it's the expectations that will be reduced.  


What a ridiculous argument.  If thats the best argument he can give, then all power to Dianna Crossan. 

If a person is unable to work in the gap between 65 & 67 (surely a very arbitrary two years for every manual workers' bodies to suddenly pack up anyway!), then they can go on a sickness benefit.  What proportion of the population work manually nowadays anyway?  10%? 

It is funny, he is all Mr Toughy when it comes to young beneficiaries, cutting govt departments, introducing probation periods.  Then suddenly very solicitous when it comes to interfering with Baby Boomers' entitlements!  Cooing at them softly.  Reminds me of Muldoon.

Cheers to all

Oh, and a reminder.  Today be Talk Like a Pirate Day, me hearties!  Time to swab the decks and splice the mainbrace!  Aaaarrrrhhhh!!!



Avast , ye scurvy dogs .... Pin back yer lugholes for the tale of the old salty dog , the Jolly Roger , hesself !

.. those bilge sucking landlubbers Key and Goff have scuttled the debate , batterned down the hatches on the retirement pow-wow . ....

Feed them to the fishes oi say . Aaaaaarrrgggghhhh ! .. they're pillaging the booty of the future generation ... Run a shot across their bows' , me hearties , oooh arrhh ..

.. shiver their timbers at the next election , those hornswaggling sons of Davy Jones !

Yo ho ho !

What do you suggest we do should we exercise our democratic vote this season..? how do we penalise these nonperformers at the risk of inheriting the meek and soppy...or worse..the bauble us 

Is the Good Doctor ready to sail upon tempestuous seas........has he had a refit...I';ve not spied him  of late even on a calm sea....has dry dock claimed him...?

Thing is, Baby Boomers don't need any coo'ing or coddling over this political hot potatoe.

The  phase in from 65 to 67 would begin in 2020 and finish 2033. It's Gen X that should care most but seems most of us are blithely unaware or else happy to bear the tax brunt of everything.




May I be cheeky and ask your age?



I think Key is quite right on this one, and it is surprising that the argument is coming from him and not Phil Goff / David Cunliffe.   Manual workers *are* less likely to be able to physically defer their retirement age.   Furthermore, according to NZ Statistics mortality tables, 20% of Maori and Pacific Island men will not even make it to age 65, let alone have years and years of NZ Super to look forward to.     By raising the retirement age, the PM responsible is forcing that on several hundered thousand adults (voters) who will not be impressed.  

The combined mass of the  manual labour force contributes to the nation's coffers via PAYE and are a reliable source of income to the Government.  Whereas the higher paid, more financially savvy and generally desk-bound can (and do) adjust things to reduce their income tax burden.  -  On this one, John Key is right.   It is political sucide. 

But it would be true wherever the age of eligibility was set, that there will be some people who will not live to that age, some people who cannot continue in their present occupation to that age, and some people who will enjoy a long period collecting their NZS (not necessarily "retired") after that age.   A single age of eligibility will always be "unfair", but that's inevitable unless the proposal is that each individual should be awarded their own individual age of eligibility to collect NZS, taking into account their ethnicity, gender, family circumstances, genetic predisposition to early death, smoking, diet and exercise habits and their occupation (several of which can change over time, so perhaps the age should be re-set every time somebody changes job, quits smoking, joins a gym, gets married, has a child?).

As such 67 is no more or less unfair in itself than 65, or 60, or 68 and seven months.


I agree.  Key is obviously putting up a straw man to defuse the argument.

The minute you say eligiblity should be lower for manual workers (wearing out), you need to extend that to Maori & Pasifika - since they live shorter lives.  On that argument, you would need to keep the age lower for men than woman.  Clearly that would be a no-go.

Plus the minute you introduce a split eligiblity, people will be motivated to find a way to rort the system. 

Better to just keep the age consistent, & deal with any burning inequities in targeted ways.

Key did the same sort of sophistry with CGT.  Refusing to address the key issues by focusing on tangents. 

Clever politician.  Bad long-term leader (note example of Muldoon)


Indeed, with any defined entitlement age there is unfairness.   Yet at the moment we are talking about specifically about the entitlement age of 65 rising to, say, 67.

I am not arguing a case for split eligibilty ages based on occupation, gender or race.   I am highlighting  the fact that raising the age of entitlement is particularly harsh on certain occupations (manual workers) and certain races of people (Maori and Pacific Islanders), more than it might be for the clerical / NZ European.   

To help with the perspective - what if, in a parrallel NZ on the Planet Zog the rules were changed to make NZ Super only payable for 20 years?   I am sure massive savings could be made.  But that would directly affect those with a longer life expectancy.  Preposterous!   But s that any lesss unfair than raising the retirement age?


Now approaching 65 my mindset due to many factors not least that the body does get tired, is that yes I could / can go on working till 66 and I am in a desk job.

My outlook now is different to say 2 years ago when I thought I could keep going till 67 or 68

There does come a point in time when you realise you have to stop.

It may seem all good and proper to say keep working till 67, 68 or 69, but those that make these statements have not reached or are not anywhere near the ages of 64 or 65.

What a difference a few years make

Something completely useful for all who care.......

Perhaps it could be adapted for global financials......? very very good.

From the infomation ive seen the current reteriment scheme is unsustainable. In fact it looks like a giant pirimid scheme based on a rapidly increasing population of workers. At some point over the next decade we are going to need to dramaticially decrease expenditure on super.

This could be via: A super rate dicrease, intoduction of means testing, Change in age of eligibility etc.

The sooner we act the more gentle we can be. For example if we acted not we could increase the retirment age by 2 mounths a year. This would be much nicer for those near retirement age than a sudden two year change in 2016. Also we could allow inflation to reduce the benifit, avoiding the upset that would be associated with a noninal super cut.

Im 22 and am confident that the super scheme will be either non-existant or watered down to a point of being meaningless by the time I retire. As such I am planning to be able to support myself.

Also important to note that there is no requirement to retire at retirement age. If you value an early retirement then your finances accoringly.

I would also like to see a "soft retirement" age considered, i.e. at 65 you get 1/5 of the normal superanuation, at 66 you get 2/5 and so on untill you reach full benifit at the age of 69. The idea would be to allow people to taper out of the workplace, by gradualy cutting down hours. I think this would be good for both employers (who have longer to take advantage of experenced staff), and the retirees to slowly wind down there working days.

When I look around workplaces I see many more older than younger faces. 

A large number are pulling two incomes (work and super) and have no intention of going anywhere.  They are comformatable in their jobs, secure due to contracts and Unions and know damn well their investments arn't good enough to replaced the wage they are on.

But where does this leave the graduates and school leavers? 

Perhaps there is a case to say no super unless you give up your day job?




When the pension was first introduced the age of eligilbilty was about the average life expectancy. If it had been continually adjusted to reflect the origional ratios of folk who live long enough to qualify and the numbers of years each qualifier receives it before croaking there would be no problem. It was when the idiot Muldoon did his mother of all election bribes in '75 lowering the age to 60 that stuffed us up.

From the actuarial tables of the 1930's ,  the " average " person didn't begin to collect  " their pension " until 2 or 3 years after they had died .

....... the moral of the story ?

Don't be " average " ..... kick up a storm & have some fun in your dotage !

I suspect that the closest I will get to being able to afford to retire is going to Tonys Tyres...

Maybe the difference is that superannuation was introduced as one of several social welfare efforts to create a safety net.

Now it's an "entitlement" people treat like it's an insurance policy.  I paid my tax so it should pay me super.

Key's not worried, he can just get his big credit card out and rack up some more debt for the county, no worries, it’s all about winning elections, not what's good for the country.

  Here's a suggestion on how to save a few Bill on Superannuation Funds as the Baby Boomers (of which I am one) launch their rickety fingers into the Pension Honey Pot!!! STOP THE RORT of younger spouses/partners being paid early Superannuation!!! The majority of 65 year olds probably have a younger partner in tow. By making it a level playing field for both partners who are married or in a de facto or Civil Union relationship, along with Singles, are all equally eligible, being only those who attain the age of 65 can receive the Superannuation Pension....would be a massive savings.

 Currently, & what I have discovered has been possibily going on for years since the two relevant Acts were passed (Social Security Act 1964 & NZ Superannuation & Retirement Income Act 2001), once someone reaches that key (65) to the Pension Honey Pot then their younger unqualified spouse/partner (as young as 50 years old) can also dip their greedy fingers into the Pot, for up to the full entitlement of $588.16 gross/$522.96 net per week for a couple. OK the unqualified spouse/partner is supposed to be means tested before they're legally eligible but with practically every man, woman & dog in this country setting up a “Family Trust” to hide their assets & income, for whatever reasons, this means test is a farce. Have spoken with WINZ regarding this & the person admitted WINZ can only assess eligibilty on the financial information they might receive from the client. (It's not a legal requisite at this time to disclose all things financial, however, if WINZ is made aware that such information is not truthful or complete then there are consequences although, methinks, these are not much of a deterrent for those who are well-heeled.) WINZ have no powers to investigate Family Trusts nor bank accounts nor the client's financial earnings/dealings other than the accounts they might receive from their clients. These could be prepared by their lawyer or accountant which, as we all know, are usually tweaked for both the clients' & the lawyer's or accountant's advantages, therefore, are prabably not true accounts.