Free trade with parents under the One Child Policy
Why should New Zealand be interested in China's One Child Policy when it comes to NZ Super? A strange question? No. This policy that was introduced between 1978 and 1980 and phased out in 2015 has dramatic implications on the cost of NZ Super.
There are two tiers under Immigration New Zealand's Parent Category. The first tier allows rich people to come into the country and live with or near their children who have moved to New Zealand at least three years before their parents apply for residence. They have to have sufficient funds to not become a burden on New Zealand's social welfare system and must have proof of a guaranteed minimum lifetime income.
Tier two is for parents who have no adult children living in the same country as them, and here the Chinese nationals who became parents during their country's One Child Policy period come in. Every Chinese couple, made up of two single children, that has resided in New Zealand for three years and has a gross annual income of at least
NZ$ 33,675 (as of May 2016) can bring in two sets of parents.
Two sets of parents, four New Zealand pensions
After ten years of residence in New Zealand these four pensioners receive four New Zealand pensions, and their Chinese pensions are not deducted, thanks to the dubious regulations which slipped in nearly unnoticed under the Free Trade Agreement Helen Clark's government signed with their Chinese counterparts in 2008, the first such agreement of a developed country with China.
Since then the Government under John Key has not dared to discuss the issue with the Chinese because their government is easily upset. The Prime Minister is rather willing to extradite Chinese nationals who might be sentenced to death in their home country. Of course, our officials will ask for an assurance that this will not happen. And as we all know, China is an honest, democratic and corruption-free partner who has a great record regarding Human Rights...
This article is not intended to be anti-Chinese. The intention is to demonstrate that the Direct Deduction Policy is getting crazier by the day. The CEO of the Ministry of Social Development, currently Brendan Doyle, who has the right to decide which overseas pensions are deducted from NZ Super, has lost any common sense and logical thinking. The approach is totally inconsistent, and the treatment of pensioners unfairer by the day.
Not anti-Chinese but pro-fairness
We do not demand that Chinese parents who are over 65 years old should not receive NZ Super after ten years in New Zealand as long as this is the only requirement for being eligible for NZ Super. But we do not tolerate that pensioners with overseas pensions from most European countries, the USA, Canada etc do not receive the same treatment, that they do not receive full NZ Super after living in New Zealand for ten years, having contributed to the economy and society far longer than that - and even speak the language!
The official explanation why Chinese pensions are not deducted from NZ Super is that they are not "administered by or on behalf of a government" but by local authorities - which is the only way to administer the pensions in such a huge population of 1,38 billion people (May 2016).
The question if an overseas pensions can be deducted from NZ Super must not be who administers the funds but who has paid for it.
If the funding of NZ Super as it stands now is sustainable is a totally different question. We think it isn't. We think the only way to keep the system sustainable and fair to everyone is a proportional payment of NZ Super, reflecting the years of residence and contributions to society in New Zealand - as long as the Government is not willing to introduce a contributory pension system like in most other countries of the world.
The graphs below show how exponentially Chinese immigration has risen, as well as the dramatic rise of Chinese nationals applying for residence under the Parent Category - which has been temporarily suspended in October 2016, among changes that have been made to reduce the number of immigrants coming to New Zealand. See more information and a link to a newspaper article on the topic in the right column on this page.
Chinese Lantern Festival
Parent Category temporarily suspended
Last week Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse announced that the Government was tightening the number of residency permits. Among the changes is the temporary closure of the Parent Category to new applications. So far the enormous health costs to parents has been cited as a reason for the suspension. The pension cost for the Chinese parents has not even been mentioned. It is possible that the Immigration Minister doesn't know about it.
More links and information:
Article in the New Zealand Herald (09.05.2016) about the growing trend and concern on Chinese immigrants leaving their parents alone in New Zealand:Chinese leaving their elderly alone in NZ
In the article, the author, Lincoln Tan, quotes Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley who says that New Zealand's immigration policy targets those who can contribute economically, and most tend to be working age.
"But they leave their parents behind and at some point that becomes a concern", said Professor Spoonley in the article. "New Zealand does allow for family reunification. But there does need to be close monitoring that these family units stay in New Zealand. "They have a key responsibility, if they sponsor family members, to look after them after arrival."
It is not known how many parents are being left in New Zealand by absent sponsors, but figures obtained under the Official Information Act by the NZ Herald in 2013 showed 31 per cent of the 3000 sponsors who left were Chinese.
The article also quotes a Chinese social worker who said that many sponsored their parents to be caregivers of their children but they were often left to fend for themselves once they were no longer needed or when the children did not need supervision anymore.