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Scoop: Means-testing

Kiwis punished for flying the flag overseas
Scoop on 5 November 2007

Press Release: NZ Pension Abuse


NZ Super means-tested: Kiwi singer warns all KiwiSavers

 

NBR NZ Opera director Barry Mora is raising his voice for the thousands of New Zealanders denied NZ Super on account of KiwiSaver-type contributions made while working overseas. He warns that all working Kiwis could lose their Super.

Mr Mora, “feeling like a second-class citizen in my own country”, has alerted the Prime Minister to the fact that New Zealand’s “universal, non-means-tested” superannuation is a myth.

An internationally-acclaimed baritone, Mr Mora sang for 12 years in Germany, where his pension scheme contributions were subsidized by his employers.

“Now in my retirement I receive a pension from Germany - reduced by 30 per cent for what is recognised as the German social security part of my entitlement. This I understand and regard as fair. The government of Germany honours its commitment to me and my ex-employers by regularly sending me the 70 per cent balance.”

New Zealand’s direct deduction policy, however, makes compulsory overseas pensions a disqualification for NZ Super. In effect, the country for whom Mr Mora “flew the flag” overseas is confiscating his whole German pension.

“If KiwiSaver becomes compulsory, as Revenue Minister Peter Dunne predicts, our government need only apply its policy to compulsory pensions here for all working Kiwis to lose their Super.”

Mr Mora assists young singers as they prepare for their own overseas careers, aware that even a few years’ pension contributions overseas will consume their NZ Super when they retire.

“Of course it is not only singers. Increasingly international career moves mean that over 50,000 New Zealanders now have their Super drastically reduced or receive nothing.”

Mr Mora received a recent call from the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development, acknowledging that his NZ Super deductions were unjust. Although the ministry has been advising cabinet ministers as much since 2003, the government has shown little inclination to change the legislation.

Mr Mora says the deduction policy amounts to financial abuse of the elderly.

“The policy draws its impetus from a disrespect for foreigners and for the aged. People who worked overseas are isolated and particularly easy to exploit in their retirement. I’ve been a New Zealand taxpayer for three quarters of my working life, and I’m being robbed of most of my Super. I’m talking tens of thousands of dollars.”

Mr Mora is a member of NZ Pension Abuse, whose website, www.nzpensionabuse.org, highlights the international perspective:

“Denying a retirement scheme for which a person qualifies during one period of a working life on account of a fund paid for during another arouses international disgust. To offset NZ Super against proportional pensions is to trample fundamental rights honoured throughout the Western world.”

 

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