Until this week I hadn't seen the inside of a Winz office. What a pleasant surprise. It was like walking into the quiet atmosphere of a plush bank, except the colours of the walls, carpets and subdued lighting were warmer than any bank.

A sign directed national superannuation inquiries to one side of the open plan floor and other beneficiaries to the other. But both sides had the same soft furnishings and not a counter in sight.

A smiling man came to greet me and ushered me to one of a number of desks at the wall and though I was there only to make an appointment for the required interview, when he realised I had my papers ready and right then was the most convenient time of day for me, he sat me down and processed me on the spot.

He couldn't have been more helpful. This was not like any government agency I had previously met either and I couldn't help wondering whether the reception was as warm on the other side of the floor.


In the Herald that same morning, Denis O'Reilly, a social worker with gangs, had written a piece complaining that the culture at Winz had changed from one of helping people get everything to which they were entitled to one that questions whether an applicant is worthy of assistance.

That is the difference between Labour and National, I suppose. One believes in entitlement, the other wants to be certain you really need it. I'm with National on this and I felt a little guilty that morning. I wish National would apply the same principle to people like me.

Like an increasing proportion of baby boomers picking up national super I have no plans to retire. I don't need the extra money and can't delude myself that it's rightfully mine.

You have to be as old as the latest (and surely last) leader of Grey Power to have paid a small premium on top of your taxation, and he paid it only for a year or two after starting work at age 15. The premium was absorbed into income tax in the 1960s and, in any case, it was never a contribution to a properly balanced fund, just a token to give taxpayers of that time the illusion they were saving for their retirement.

I was furious, because in their delusion that generation had voted down a properly funded scheme 10 years earlier, which would have matured about now.

And boy, did they believe it. As a reporter at Parliament when the Lange Government introduced the surtax, I vividly recall Venn Young, a minister in the previous Government, explaining to me the only reason those objecting to the surtax had accepted a 66 percent top tax rate for so long was the promise of a pension at 65, paid regardless of other income, assets or private savings.

I remember being amazed, because they must have known all those years they were paying that tax rate the budget was in deficit. They weren't paying for all the public services they were using at the time, let alone contributing to their retirement. And I was furious, because in their delusion that generation had voted down a properly funded scheme 10 years earlier, which would have matured about now.

My generation has failed to fix that mistake though it has made the economy stronger and more demanding for the next generation. Our children are working in a tougher environment than we did, they've had to pay back tertiary education costs we never faced and now they face house prices fuelled in large part by my generation's investments for retirement. They should not have to provide me with a pension until I really need it.

Fine, I hear you say, don't take it. And you're right. I'm trying to think what makes me any different from Donald Trump. It tax avoidance worse than taking money you don't need from the public purse? Both are perfectly legal, if that is the only test you recognise.


Trump blames loopholes in the tax system and now says he would change it. Maybe that would work for me. This is not the first time I've tried to advance an alternative superannuation scheme in this column. It's the best I can do.

I think the pension should not be available until we retire from regular paid work, and it should be available at any age after 60 to better cater for those in physically strenuous work. In view of my generation's enrichment by housing investments in recent years, at the expense of young working taxpayers with no equity who have to rent those investment homes, I think an asset test would be fair too.

But since it's not going to happen and all political parties are determined to give me a benefit I don't need, what's the point of refusing? That's how I rationalise it, but really it's just greed.