Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Act Party promises push for super age referendum

Act Party Leader Don Brash. Photo / Getty Images
Act Party Leader Don Brash. Photo / Getty Images

Act would push for a referendum on raising the superannuation age to 67 as part of a confidence supply agreement with National, leader Don Brash says.

In a speech today in Hamilton, Dr Brash warned that the universal state funded pension scheme was fiscally unsustainable over the long term. Failure by governments to face up to that, along with costly policies being promoted by parties on the left meant rising Crown debt and the risk of the 'Greecification' of New Zealand.

Dr Brash acknowleged that Labour's election policy to raise the age of superannuation eligibility from 65 to 67 gradually between 2020 and 2033 - in line with Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan's recommendation - meant the issue was "in play with the New Zealand electorate".

But Act wanted the age to rise earlier and twice as fast, beginning in 2017 and reaching 67 by 2023.

However, the "single biggest impediment to raising the age in line with demographic and fiscal reality" was Prime Minister John Key's public declaration that he would rather resign than raise the age.

To put the issue on the post election agenda, "ACT will ask that the issue of raising the superannuation age be put to a public vote"

"In any negotiations over Confidence and Supply with the National Party next week, we will push for a referendum to be held on the retirement age in the coming year."

Dr Brash said the question asked in such a poll could be: "'Should New Zealand match Australia's retirement age of 67 by 2023 by raising the age of eligibility six months every second year starting from 2017?"

"This referendum would take this question and its long term consequences out of today's politics and put New Zealand's fiscal destiny in the hands of New Zealanders."

Dr Brash doubted that New Zealanders, "faced with a proper debate on this subject, would choose to continue evading fiscal reality".

A referendum that found in favour or raising the superannuation age, "would give John Key a strong mandate to begin raising the age".

While a referendum would cost about $9 million, the cost of superannuation next year would be $9.5 billion or more than $1 million a hour.

"In other words, having a proper public debate about superannuation would cost less than nine hours' worth of current superannuation spending. In my opinion, that's worth every penny."

- NZ Herald

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