Cloned messages from the Beehive's archive
One thing that's really great about New Zealand being a small country with a small population but more ministers in Parliament than in the world's leading nations: when you contact your MP or any minister or even the Prime Minister they normally answer your emails and letters. Or whoever answers for them...
However, if you write to the big parties you are not far off the mark to suspect that a robot clicks a repeat button after having established the key words of your issue. When comparing the letters pensioners received from representatives of the National and Labour parties, we have not found any differences in the wording.
It is not surprising that Prime Minister John Key uses the same stock phrases as Paula Bennett (Minister of Social Development) and John Carter (Minister for Senior Citizens until 2011). But you might think it is remarkable that the trio are using the identical wording of letters once written to pensioners by Labour Ministers Steve Maharey, Ruth Dyson and Michael Cullen.
The reason for talking like mimicking parrots is simple: they, respectively their secretaries and ghostwriters, all copy the phrasing of the 2005 and 2007 Reviews of New Zealand Superannuation and Overseas Pensions from the archive, in order to stick to the same twisted truth.
If you know these papers and then read that John Carter tried to demonstrate his competence by adding: "In my judgment, [only the roughly 10% of superannuitants who are directly affected by direct deduction are concerned about the issue]", you would even laugh if the topic was funnier.
The interesting thing about the Labour party being in opposition in the meantime is that they now tell you that they would "look into the issue" and "bring it forward" in Parliament "whenever an opportunity arises".
But, of course, their stance has not really changed. If they were back in power they would use their old excuse that there is not enough money available in the budget to implement any changes in the Direct Deduction Policy and that DDP is "fair to most New Zealanders".
The National Party already used the wording before they came into power in November 2008. Interestingly enough Paula Bennett, the Minister of Social Development - many call her department Ministry of Unsocial Development - passed the baton to John Carter, the Minister for Senior Citizens, who during 2009 suddenly became responsible for superannuation matters. Paula Bennett could then concentrate her focus on the abuse of social welfare benefits. After the general election 2011 Jo Goodhew became new Minister for Senior Citizens.
Some of the small parties voice different opinions
The only parties that support the reform of Section 70 are the Green Party, United Future, and New Zealand First. (ACT calls for privately funded retirement provisions.) This is honourable but reality is that the Greens are far from getting anywhere near power. United Future is a kind of one-man party. Without their leader Peter Dunne they will almost certainly be kicked out of Parliament.
New Zealand First was not represented in Parliament for three years because its leader Winston Peters lost his electorate seat (Tauranga) in 2008. In November 2011 he returned, thanks to the votes of many pensioners. However, we have not heard him speak up on the issue yet.
But at least the members of these smaller parties are voices in the big (South Pacific) ocean of injustice, and we should encourage them to bring up the topic more often.