No retirement age lift says Key, despite poll

John Key says that he has no plans to raise the retirement age despite a  new poll showing two thirds of voters think it should be. Photo / Martin Sykes
John Key says that he has no plans to raise the retirement age despite a new poll showing two thirds of voters think it should be. Photo / Martin Sykes

Prime Minister John Key is standing firm on the retirement age despite a poll showing two thirds of voters think the age should be raised.

A TV3 Reid Research poll shows 63 per cent of 1000 questioned voters thought the current retirement age of 65 should be raised to 66 or 67 from 2020 or even earlier.

Thirty-seven per cent did not think it should go up.

Speaking to Firstline this morning Key said he was not open to a referendum on the retirement age.

"We had an election on it, in the last campaign Labour went into the election wanting to raise the age of super, after having a long time in office and choosing not to raise that, fair enough, voters rejected that."

Modelling and work done by National indicated that up to 2020 there was no significant issues around retirement age, he said.

The government had many issues to deal with in relation to the growth of the economy.

"So me coming out today saying we're raising the age of superannuation, the pension from 2020 does absolutely nothing to the national accounts today or tomorrow or the next day or the next day," Key said.

He said he did not make decisions based on a 3 News poll and he would not be raising the retirement age today.

However, OECD pensions expert Edward Whitehouse said New Zealand's superannuation policy "stands out" from most other OECD countries.

"There are 13 OECD countries going beyond 65: Australia, the United States, Britain and Ireland going to 68; Germany, Spain, Italy and Denmark are linking their pension ages to increases in life expectancy so we project that by 2050 they will have pension ages of 69.

"All the other countries are moving upwards and New Zealand is staying at 65. It stands out a bit. More than half of OECD countries are increasing pension ages over the coming decades."

Whitehouse told Radio New Zealand the good news was that public pensions were still far less expensive in New Zealand- less than 5 per cent of GDP, which is about half the average of the 34 OECD countries.

However: "Longer term, by 2050, Treasury's figures suggest that will increase to 8 per cent of GDP so it's an extra 3.3 per cent of national income that needs to be found for pensions.

"It's still a marked increase in expenditure on what is happening today."

Whitehouse said increases in life expectancy would make pensions more expensive while at the same time the declining birth rate would mean that there would be fewer workers to pay for them.

"Today in New Zealand, for every four people in working age there will be one of pension age, three by the mid 2020s and only 2.4 in 2050."

- APNZ

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