Imagine what an election debate in 2029 might look like. Aside from Richie McCaw as All Black coach and Auckland's average house price nearing the $2 million mark, not much would appear different.

The baby boomers will be in their late 70s to early 90s but will still be a force in shops, cafes and polling booths because they will have lived longer than their parents and be richer and healthier.

They will be receiving New Zealand Super at 67 per cent of the average wage and many will have hefty earnings from KiwiSaver and multiple rental properties.

Some will be earning big salaries from jobs they haven't retired from. But numbers will be dwindling.


They will have been overwhelmed numerically by the Millennials and Generations X and Y in the previous two elections.

However, only in 2029 would the enormity of what happened to the nation's finances in the previous 30 years have dawned on voters in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

Only 49 per cent of those aged 18-29 voted in 2014. By 2029, that proportion will be much higher. When they look back over those decades of political decisions leading up to 2029, what will they see?

They will have seen a raft of policies stretching from the 1980s onwards that repeatedly blocked the building of new houses and infrastructure, particularly public transport.

They will have seen the dismantling of free tertiary education by a generation that benefited from it. They will have seen the results of a superannuation set-up that loaded the costs on to the workers of 2015-2030, not on the retirees.

That's because contributions to Super were turned off in 2009 and not turned back on until 2023. That will have cost more than $121b by 2029.

Superannuation spending will have risen from $9.9b this year to $23.4b by 2029, and Treasury is forecasting a rise to $100b by 2060. That's on top of a surge in health costs as the population aged and got fatter.

By 2029, taxpaying voters in their 30, 40s and 50s will be facing massive pressures on public finances, potentially forcing tax increases and cuts in social spending without changes to the pension and health settings.

It will be too late to extend the retirement age by then, but there will be a big push to means test superannuation and health spending for the aged.

The unfair link of Super to wages, rather than price inflation, will be revisited.

There will be talk of widening taxes on capital and land to hoover up some of the wealth those retirees held in property.

The inevitable results of climate change will be clear for all to see.

That 2029 election would have been a moment where one generation took over from another, similar to when the baby boomer generation of David Lange, Helen Clark and John Key took over from the post-war generations of Keith Holyoake and Robert Muldoon from 1984 until the early 2000s.

The backlash to the economic control, heavy state investment and social conservatism of the 1940s-1960s shook New Zealand.

A generation that cut investment in public infrastructure and housing, and loaded future costs on to their children, would be leaving power.

The generations having to pay those costs would take power. What might the backlash look like?