The astonishing thing about Winston Peters' overpayment drama is that he's entitled to it.

The "Old Age" Pensions Act started out as a modest payment to the old and infirm who were in dire circumstance.

It was denied to those of modest means, those who weren't of "good moral character" and the Chinese.

It has morphed into a birthday present every fortnight for the rest of your life on turning 65 - irrespective of circumstance.


It doesn't matter whether you are still working. It doesn't matter that you receive a big salary. It doesn't matter that you own millions of dollars in assets. You still get the pension.

We have become a nation of the entitled, voting ourselves money at every election.

It's not about need. It's greed.

And woe betide a politician suggesting we don't need what we are entitled to.

It's ours and we have a thousand rationalisations for why we deserve it.

Peters' parliamentary salary puts him in the top 1 per cent of wage earners and yet he still gets the pension.

So, too, does his partner, all the while living in a multimillion-dollar house in St Mary's Bay.

He could be prime minister or minister of finance and still get a pension that's supposed to be for those too old to work and unable to provide for themselves.


He's not retired. He's clearly not in need.

The true scandal is that our welfare system is shelling out money for years to the fit and the able, who are still working, who are on good salaries and who demonstrably don't need it.

Think on that for a moment. A young family starting out are taxed to pay a pension to mortgage-free multi-millionaires with no children at home, who are still working - and on a wage the young family can only dream about.

As an aside, Peters is on his third pension entitlement.

Through a quirk of parliamentary history he has been entitled to two extremely generous parliamentary pensions.

His entitlements are gold-plated and make national Super look extremely mean.

MPs get to vote for their own pensions.

It's no surprise they are gold-plated.

They also get to vote for our pensions. But the logic is the same.

The retired form an enormous voting bloc that can't be ignored. Peters has made sure of that.

He has promised them a pension no matter their circumstance - much like he gets.

It has worked for him politically and privately and it's working for him again.

There is always a drama at election time with Peters front and centre.

It's what he does.

It would be nice to think some good could come of his latest drama, which would be to reject the payment of pensions to those still in work who clearly don't need it.