A hate speech instead of a genuine discussion
Yesterday was a sad day for retirees in New Zealand with overseas pensions. The ruling National Party, with the support of United Future solist Peter Dunne (the man who has been swimming with the tide his whole life) and Act showman David Seymour, torpedoed a totally worthy debate about NZ Super. With a 61:60 vote they stopped the "New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income (Pro Rata Entitlement) Amendment Bill - First Reading", tabled by NZ First member Denis O'Rourke, from entering the select committee process where alterations to the suggestions could have been made and a compromise found.
Remember, Peter Dunne is the one-man party United Future. He has spoken on many occasions in support of the fight against Section 70 of the Social Security Act. A while ago, when it was not sure if he would keep his ministerial post, he evaded clear answers, and now he has stabbed the knife into the back of every pensioner in New Zealand. What a despicable traitor! If you ever get to vote again, never vote for these one-man bands with their overblown egos.
You can watch the debate on Parliament TV via this link:
If you watch Denis O'Rourke's presentation and, in the second video, the hateful and vindictive speech by National member David Bennett, you know what we are up against.
We are up against a government that doesn't care about fairness, justice and equality - and still using exactly these words every few seconds to justify why nothing should be changed about NZ Super. They talk about NZ Super pretending Section 70 does not exist. It also shows the total ignorance of the facts.
Their "debate" was not about providing fairness and the same treatment of every New Zealand resident but to destroy a bill because it was presented by their arch enemy, NZ First. This is despicable, disgusting behaviour, not appropriate for someone who represents an electorate and therefore the people of New Zealand.
We have written to David Bennett and Prime Minister John Key to let them know what we think about their hypocritical stance on the real issues that riddle NZ Super and Section 70.
Here is the letter:
"Dear Mr Bennett,
I am not a supporter of NZ First and would not support the superannuation pro rata bill in its presented form.
But I am appalled that you abused the parliamentary debate about the superannuation pro rata bill as an opportunity to throw stones at NZ First instead of giving the bill a fair chance to go to select committee stage where any important changes could have been discussed.
I agree with other MPs who said that not the bill was a disgrace but you. Your shameful performance reminded me of the carnival speeches I know from John Key and the German carnival sessions in Mainz and Cologne. But unfortunately it wasn’t funny at all.
I am in disbelief that someone like you who seems to have no idea about the reality, inconsistencies and unfairness of NZ Super has the right to represent an electorate and therefore the people of New Zealand.
You seem to not have listened to Denis O’Rourke or read his bill. He mentioned Section 70 of the Social Security Act 1964 which massively disadvantages immigrants, returning Kiwis and even Kiwis who have never left the country between age 20 and 65, solely for being married to a person with an overseas pension, by means of the Spousal Provision.
Thank you for listing all the attributes that make NZ Super unfair and discriminatory! I wondered if you lived in lala land when you claimed that the pro rata bill would lead to unfair and discriminatory disadvantage of people who come or return from overseas – because thanks to Section 70 this appalling treatment of a section of society has been going on for decades.
Therefore I wholeheartedly support your calls for fairness and justice on the points you mentioned:
1. Immigrants – whom you called genuine New Zealanders - should be treated in the same way as born-and-bred New Zealanders.
2. Returning Kiwis’ NZ Super should not be reduced or taken away.
3. NZ Super should not be means-tested.
4. NZ Super should be universal.
5. NZ Super should be paid to everyone who has lived here for ten years between age 20 and 65.
You asked: “What’s next? Means-test NZ Super?”, and beamed with the pride of the ignorant.
Obviously you do not know that this has been happening for decades for exactly the part of society you say must not be treated differently. Section 70 of the Social Security Act takes away their NZ Super or reduces it dramatically because by means of dollar-for-dollar direct deduction their employer/employee-funded overseas pensions are taken into account.
These overseas pensions have no similarity to NZ Super at all, as government reviews in 2004 and 2005 have clearly stated. (You can find the reviews here: http://nzpensionabuse.org.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/files/2004_Report.pdf, and here: http://nzpensionabuse.org.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/files/2005_Report.pdf.
If it is not means-testing when people with employer/employee-funded pensions do not receive (full) NZ Super, what else is means-testing?
While the Prime Minister, you, your spouses, multi-millionaires and New Zealanders who have spent most their time in prison are all eligible for NZ Super, and you and your fellow MPs will also receive your parliamentary pensions on top of NZ Super, these people who have nothing but their overseas retirement savings they have paid for during their entire overseas working history (and I say WORKING, not living!) are clearly means-tested.
The worst thing of all of it is the Spousal Provision Denis O’Rourke mentioned in his speech which you might not have listened to. Born-and-bred New Zealanders receive no or only a fraction of NZ Super if their partner’s overseas pension exceeds the amount of NZ Super because they are combined to an economic unit.
Where remains the universality of NZ Super which you praised? Do you think this is not means-testing? Where remains the fairness? THIS is discrimination of the worst kind. And still you dare to praise the current NZ Super system as fair, non-discriminatory and universal.
Either you don’t know the truth or, even worse, you know it and would lie to the people of New Zealand. In both cases you should not hold a speech in Parliament on this specific topic, throw dirt at others who know better, and – best – not be a member of Parliament.
I agree with you in one point: In principle, New Zealand’s superannuation system is generous – but only to those who are not affected by Section 70. To receive full NZ Super after only ten years residency is generous, probably too generous.
Why not raise the minimum residency requirement to 20 or 25 years, pay proportionate NZ Super to those who have resided here for fewer years and top-up their pensions if the sum of their proportionate NZ Super and their overseas pension is under the rate of NZ Super? There would always be mechanisms to avoid unfairness and discrimination, and the select committee process would have been the tool to address these issues.
You and your colleagues have instead robbed tens of thousands of New Zealanders of the chance to be treated like any other New Zealander – which has absolute priority for you, as you pretended in your speech.
Now let your big words follow deeds:
· Address the unfairness of NZ Super and Section 70.
· Work towards immigrants and returning Kiwis being treated the same as all other New Zealanders.
· Address the concerns about some immigrants receiving full NZ Super while others don’t.
· Explain to the average New Zealander why Chinese nationals receive full NZ Super after ten years and Americans, Canadians, Germans, French, British and citizens of so many other countries don’t.
· Explain to New Zealanders why Australians receive full NZ Super without having lived a minute in New Zealand before retirement age, while most New Zealanders receive neither an Australian pension nor NZ Super if they wish to retire in Australia.
· Help New Zealanders who have never left the country but are in a relationship with someone from overseas to receive full NZ Super.
· Make sure that every individual who has resided in New Zealand for ten years receives full or proportionate NZ Super. As Denis O’Rourke pointed out, pro rata payments already exist for those who choose to retire overseas – if they retire to a country which has no Social Security Agreement with New Zealand. You seem to be totally ignorant of this. And if someone moves to another country a week before his/her 65th birthday and cannot apply for NZ Super while residing in New Zealand, they do not receive a cent of NZ Super even if they have lived here for 30 years or more.
Do all this and only then will I (not a pensioner) and so many desperate, suicidal and disadvantaged pensioners believe what you said in Parliament: that you want everyone who has lived in New Zealand for a minimum of ten years to be treated the same. Because you are right: all these people have contributed to the tax-base and society of this country and deserve the safety net of NZ Super at old age.
I for my part will not tire to expose the unfairness and discrimination happening in New Zealand to the world.
Letter from a pensioner as a reaction to the "debate":
I watched last night, and it was the most disgusting thing I've seen from Parliament. I nearly had a heart attack!!
This was nothing about the Bill presented, but about the absolute hatred John Key, Bill English and all of the National Party and their lap-dog Peter Dunne have for Winston Peters and NZ First. And to a degree everybody else who is faintly left of centre.
I've had so many letters from Peter Dunne confirming his "Party's" (?) support. But he couldn't miss a chance for a tiny bit of revenge for past encounters with Winston. Disgusting!!
This morning I am not a proud Kiwi. In fact that went out the window long ago."
The parties that supported the first reading of the Pro Rata Entitlement Bill were Labour, the Greens, NZ First and the Maori Party.
The New Zealand Herald's report on the debate: