Grey Power spits the Retirement Age dummy

The chances of avoiding a head on clash between Grey Power and the Government over raising the age of national superannuation are fading as the organisation?s 65000 members prepare for political war.

National president Tom O?Connor said he had planned to debate the Government?s announced intention, to raise the age of entitlement to 67, at their AGM in May but the response from across the nation had been swift and very angry.

“It?s like someone has kicked a beehive and I wouldn?t to be around when the lid comes off.”

O?Connor said not all Grey Power members were old enough to draw national superannuation yet but they were determined to protect the scheme from political interference.”

I don?t think they have been this angry since an attempt to impose a surtax on superannuation 30 years ago gave rise to Grey Power,” he said.

O?Connor said lifting the age of entitlement because national superannuation had become unaffordable had become an ill-founded mantra of the far right but there was no sound evidence to support it.

“National superannuation amounts to less than 4% of GDP. Even if the amount currently paid doubles over the next twenty years GDP will probably increase by a similar amount or more.” He said.

O?Connor said the generation now in their retirement years had built the industrial infrastructure which underpinned todays thriving economy. “Certainly we earned good wages but we worked hard and also paid massive taxes and a portion of those taxes was set aside, by agreement with Government and matched with a Government contribution, to fund national superannuation. It would be unconscionable to renege on that deal now.”

The Government suspended payments into the scheme in 2008 and still gave the pension to immigrants after only ten years residency in New Zealand and O?Connor said it was “a bit rich” to now suggest the scheme was unaffordable.

He said national superannuation was not a benefit or a charity but a pension scheme paid for and owned by all taxpayers.

“We inherited that scheme from the generation before us and we intend to ensure it is still there for those who follow us into retirement. This battle will not be for us but for those who have yet to retire.” he said.

Actually, to be fair, superannuation is not a pension scheme. ?It’s a government-implemented Ponzi scheme that only works because the current taxpayers are feeding money into it. ?There is no pension fund. ?That’s what the Cullen Fund was meant to address.

What O’Connor is right about is that the scheme was affordable two weeks ago, and now suddenly it isn’t. ?That’s because Bill English cocked up on the radio, necessitating emergency policy to make it look like it was part of a plan. ?Anyone who wants to OIA the government for all research, meetings, agendas, diary notes and internal reports that arrived at this policy will find there aren’t any before two weeks ago.

No matter how sensible the final outcome, the fact that this sudden change wasn’t signalled in advance does not positively add to Bill English’s already shaky reputation as a poor leader.

National will probably get away with it and not lose too many actual votes over this, but the whole thing has been a patch-up job.