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From the Retirement Commission

From 2011 to 2014: "The Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income"
Since late 2014: "Commission for Financial Capability"
The art of evading answers
 
One of our pensioners sent us a letter he had written to the Retirement Commission - which was rebranded "The Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income" in 2011 and "Commission for Financial Capability" in late 2014 - and the answer he received. He had investigated in the hope that this seemingly autonomous Crown entity would recommend the abolition of Section 70 in its upcoming review. So he simply asked Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan what her office's position on this issue was. It was another evasive letter from Wellington that didn't even try to give a specific answer to a specific question.
 
This is the pensioner's letter from late April 2010:
 
"Dear Ms Crossan,

I am very concerned about the way New Zealand Superannuation is paid, or rather not paid in full or not at all under certain circumstances. In this context I would like to know what the Retirement Commission's position is on Section 70 of the Social Security Act, more specifically on the direct deduction policy of overseas pensions and the spousal provision rule. 

The Retirement Commission is currently seeking views on retirement income policy for its 2010 Review to be submitted by the end of this month "under a broad framework of three key standpoints:
  • The way that Government agencies work together and contribute to effective retirement income policy.
  • The role of New Zealand's financial services sector in relation to retirement income provision
  • The future wellbeing of New Zealanders in their retirement years, and what this may mean for their communities, and for local and central government."

Why is the scope of this framework pre-defined, i.e. why does it not seem to allow other aspects that require attention and change towards a more fair and equitable pension system?

In 2008, the spousal provision rule was identified as one of the most glaring injustices and it was recommended to discontinue its practice. However, this particular recommendation was not enacted in legislation.

Are these topics not on the Retirement Commissions agenda? The dissatisfaction and ill will of superannuitants affected by Section 70 will not simply go away just because the issue is not being addressed.

What is the Retirement Commission's opinion on this unfair treatment of superannuitants whose overseas pensions are abated against NZ Super although the two types of pensions are not comparable? (NZ Super is tax-funded whereas most overseas pensions are work-related and contribution-funded and hence paid for by the individual, not an overseas government). What is the Retirement Commissions opinion on the spousal provision practice?

I would appreciate to hear your opinion. [...]"
 
This is the evasive answer he received in early May 2010 from the Project Manager, not the Commissioner:

"Thank you for your submission. As noted in the terms of reference for the Review the 'Commissioner may exercise her power under the Act to identify and discuss matters relating to retirement income policies that go beyond these terms of reference'. Accordingly, she may choose to address this issue in her Review."
 
 

In early December 2010 the Retirement Commission  recommended to discontinue Spousal Provision. Read more on the Related Topics page "Organisations for Seniors".
 
In 2011 the Retirement Commission became "The Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income". The Retirement Commissioner remained the Retirement Commissioner. One of those brainy rebranding exercises... Hopefully no public funds were used to invent this.

The next re-naming of the former Retirement Commission took place in late 2014. The organisation is now the "Commission for Financial Capability"... The Retirement Commissioner still remained the Retirement Commissioner. Thank you for informing us about the new change, including the link to the newly named website - which again lacks any hint that pensioners are its target readers.

New Retirement Commissioner

After Diana Crossan stepped down from her role in January 2013 after ten years in office, Diane Maxwell became the new Retirement Commissioner and head of the Commission for Financial Capability on 1 July 2013. The term of office is three years.
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