COMMENT:

Up until this point, I have had nothing but admiration for how Kris Faafoi has handled himself as a minister.

Maybe it's the circus he's surrounded by that makes him stand out more than he would've done, or maybe it's just because he's actually a decent guy doing a great job.

But last night, I watched with enormous sympathy, the footage on the news of Tim Fairhall.

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His plight, if you've missed this, is that he wants access to his KiwiSaver money before the age of 65.

Why? Because Tim has Down Syndrome, and is unlikely to live that long.

He sought changes to the tax law at a select committee yesterday where he spoke about the fact he won't live as long as most people, and though he's done lots of cool stuff in his life, he'd like to do more.

But the tight KiwiSaver rules prevent him getting to his $8000 any earlier.
That's $8000 he's saved from 15 years working in his supermarket job.

He wants access to the money to be able to visit his brother and best friends who live overseas.

So why can't he have it? Why can't we be compassionate, and make an exception here?
Isn't that what governments and ministers are for? Listening to the people, hearing the case, making rules to fit their constituents, not penalise them?

We've seen it many times before: people about to be thrown out of the country given a lifeline and told they can stay, people with cases of injustice who're heard, and changes made accordingly.

So why is Tim's case any different?

Kris Faafoi said he wouldn't be making any exceptions at this stage and instead would leave it up to the Retirement Commissioner to look at when she conducts her three-yearly review next year.

I can see a Givealittle page being set up, or a generous donor giving Tim this money, and that's sorely tempting - but it lets the Government off the hook.

We are very good in this country at raising money and helping people out, but we shouldn't have to dig into our own pockets every time the government wants to play hard ball.

Tim Fairhall is hard working, and focused on a goal, he's saved that money and he has a compelling case.

So why can't the Government make an exception here?