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National Party

The smiling masters of fairness gobbledygook
16 July 2020

After not having updated this page since December 2016 when John Key stepped down as Prime Minister of New Zealand and leader of the National Party, we cannot even remember how many party leaders National has had since then.

After being kicked out of the driving seat after the General Election 2017, a coup against Simon Bridges and the resignation of his successor Todd Muller after a 
57-day reign, we are now back at a frequently smiling leader. Yesterday "Crusher" Judith Collins took over.

Thanks to the good memory and equally good archive of a few pensioners we also have communication from Judith Collins on the pension issue. In a letter from 2006 she wrote that she was sympathetic but that National "unfortunately" was not in government and - equally "unfortunaltely" had no majority in the Social Services (Select Committee).

Sympathy in Opposition - No changes when in power

Well, in 2008 National got into power and was not even interested in even making the slightest change to the rip-off policy against migrants and returning Kiwis.

In 2012, still with National in government, the Select Committee thought an inquiry into the inconsistencies of the system was warranted. But the majority of National threw it out because they didn't want any changes that would have cost money.

Here is the report of the Committee's Chairman, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga: 

"On 22 August 2012 we initiated a briefing into pension eligibility and entitlements, including portability, to gather information because we were considering whether to initiate an inquiry into overseas pension policy under the New Zealand Superannuation Scheme, and other pension portability issues related to section 70 of the Social Security Act 1964 (Rate of benefits if overseas pension payable). 

Some of us were concerned that the direct deduction policy might have been applied inconsistently. This policy can reduce entitlement for New Zealand superannuitants if they are also entitled to an overseas public or private pension, or if their partner receives an overseas pension. 

We considered reviewing the application of the direct deduction policy, the entitlement of superannuitants to receive gross New Zealand Superannuation overseas regardless of whether another country deducts tax from their entitlement, and the deduction from the entitlement of people whose partners receive overseas pensions. 

We wrote to the Minister for Social Development asking for a summary of any changes to pensions, particularly regarding eligibility and entitlement, the direct deduction policy, international portability, active and pending treaties and reciprocal agreements, public access to information about pensions, and any changes to the scheme since 2007. This information was received as evidence. 

The New Zealand Labour Party, the Green Party, and New Zealand First are of the view that the information received confirmed that an inquiry was warranted. The majority of the committee, while sympathetic to the anomalies in the system, decided not to initiate an inquiry. Prevailing fiscal constraints were also a consideration in this decision."

National's disregard for retirees with overseas pension continued and reached an apex in Parliament in 2015.
A National Party Member's Hate Speech

While John Key was Prime Minister, there was a parliamentary debate on changes to the treatment of overseas pensions. Instead of contributing to the merits of the proportional payment of NZ Super under the so-called Pro Rata Bill (tabled by NZ First), the National Party and John Key showed their true colours by allowing their MP David Bennett to hold a revolting hate speech. More information in the Fight section of this website:
NZ Super Debate 2015

No interest in the pension issue in 2020

The latest news about National's stance on the Direct Deduction Policy was as bland as the meanwhile retired leader Todd Muller. On 4 June 2020, an communication and research assistant from the National Leader's Office wrote:

"I have referred your email to the Office of Hon Tim Macindoe, as our Seniors spokesperson, for their consideration."

I had no idea who that was and saw him the first time yesterday. No reply has been received from Tim Macindoe. Obviously the National Party is not interested in the overseas pension issue at all. Just ask Judith Collins. She might be sympathetic and say that "unfortunately" she isn't in power - yet.  

Update December 2016

John Key stepped down as Prime Minister of New Zealand 
on 12 December 2016, saying: 

"I've got nothing left in the tank"

We also had enough of him.

John Key, leader of the conservative National Party, had to write letters to pensioners before and after the 2008 election. (Later his staff forward such letters and emails to the Minister for Senior Citizens.) Of course, people wanted to know if they could trust him enough to vote for him - and after he had become Prime Minister why he treated them even worse than the previous Labour Government.
Already as the leader of the Opposition Key had sent out the usual gobbledygook that "any solution to the treatment of overseas pensions under Section 70 must be fair to all taxpayers of the countries involved" and that National "would not support changes that opened up NZ Super to potential exploitation by those who seek to access New Zealand's superannuation provisions without having made a fair and equitable contribution via their working life to the New Zealand tax base and to New Zealand society".
His Executive Assistant also let pensioners hope that change would occur by stating: "Problems with a particular country are something that we can only really address once we are in government." (Note: This was in September 2008. As we now know, this equated to the statement: "We can look into but will not change anything and even ignore Labour's agreement to abolish Spousal Provision once we are in government.")
Answering questions that were not asked
Of course, John Key and National were lucky enough to inherit an economy in crisis. This gave them a brilliant excuse to make no changes at all. Given the big number of letters the Prime Minister received, Key's office obviously prepared a (media) statement with proper headline (June 2009) that it sent out to pensioners. It even answered questions that were not asked:
Protecting Superannuation in tough economic times
My Government is committed to keeping existing Superannuation entitlements.
New Zealand Superannuation for married couples will continue to be at least 66% of the after-tax average wage, paid from age 65. (Note: as we know, it is 66% for a couple, so 33% for each individual.) All other Superannuation rates will continue to be calculated from this base.
The Government is committed to these settings and I have said many times that I would resign rather than change them. These settings are affordable and are built into our long-term spending plans, as set out in our first Budget.
There has been some debate about Superannuation recently, because of the decision we made in the Budget to suspend full contributions into the "Super Fund". I can assure you that suspending full contributions to the Fund in no way affects people's entitlement to Superannuation payments, either now or in the future. Suspending full contributions is a temporary response to the very difficult economic conditions New Zealand currently faces.
We will resume full contributions when the Government's books are in a stronger financial position and we do not have to borrow to make those contributions.
At the moment, making full contributions would require borrowing around $ 30 million every week for the Fund to invest in world financial markets. Borrowing so much money would increase the debt burden on future generations and we are not prepared to do that."

 Unanswered letter
to John Key
John Key never answered a follow-up letter (after one of his standard answers) in which the following questions were asked:
- Does someone who comes to NZ and pays taxes for, let's say 20 years, try to exploit NZ's superannuation provisions?
- Has a New Zealand national, born and bred in New Zealand, who has paid taxes all his working life, not cashed in a single cent in benefits or other social welfare, not contributed enough to the NZ tax base and to NZ society, and forfeited his eligibility to NZ Super only because he is married to someone who is eligible to a small overseas pension?
- Do you think it is "fair" (your word) towards other countries to use their social security systems to finance the pensions of New Zealand nationals who are married to foreigners or returning Kiwis?