Never let it be said NZ First leader Winston Peters does not keep a promise.

For eight long years, Peters has promised National had a secret plot to cut away at superannuation. For eight long years, Peters was the only one who smelled this putrid, rotting rat as former Prime Minister John Key grinned and held to his pledge not to change super or he'd resign.

Then he did resign and suddenly, lo and behold, there it was - a plan from Prime Minister Bill English to raise the superannuation age from 65 to 67.

Peters' roar of triumph was immediate.


If it does go ahead, it will not kick in for 20 years when Peters will be in his 90s. It will assist in his personal life expectancy because he will want to grab every second of those 20 years to say "I told you so."

English's announcement was akin to feeding Popeye his spinach. Peters has all the power as the only one who can stand in front of the voters in September and say only he can keep them honest when it comes to superannuation.

Labour had campaigned for two elections on raising the age to 67, but Labour leader Andrew Little took it off the books the minute he got the job. The reason was that it was clear Labour could not win an election with such a policy.

The question English will now be pondering is whether he can win an election with it.

English has judged most fair-minded New Zealanders acknowledge that the age has to increase at some point.

There had been years of warnings about the soaring cost of super as life expectancy soared and the baby boomers headed into the twilight years.

It was, English said, what was "right for New Zealand."

Those born in the years the policy starts to take effect - from 1972 - might agree it is inevitable. But they will be entitled to feel a bit hard done by, having now copped the brunt of two policies deemed "right for New Zealand."


That is the exact same cohort that missed out on universal student allowances and instead got National's student loan scheme in 1992 - complete with interest (until Labour passed the interest-free legislation in 2000).

Some are still paying it off while the baby boomers above them got off scot-free - and do so again.

Nonetheless, English bravely - and perhaps deludedly - proclaimed he believed it would enhance his ability to win an election.

It certainly showed a certain amount of intestinal fortitude to even broach it, although English has taken care to make it so far into the never never that it will not impact on the older vote-rich end of the population.

But it may end up delivering him a fourth term simply by its ability to disappear.

He now has something to trade away to get Peters' support.

English refused to say what he would do if the policy was the difference between the Government benches for a fourth term and the Opposition, saying he did not wish to deal with hypothetical situations.

That is a bit rich given his entire announcement is still little a hypothetical.

National does not plan to actually do anything to make it happen until next year. There is an election between now and then. That makes it a policy - not a Government measure.

It has to survive the election. And policies are mere will o' the wisps when it comes to post-election negotiations. They can be sent rolling away like tumbleweed at the least provocation.

And Peters and provocation are synonyms.​