By Jeanne Villeneuve *
Peter Hughes**, Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development, advised the Government in 2005 that "Section 70 authorises the direct deduction of second-tier earnings related pensions despite the fact that, other than being administered by the state, they have little resemblance to NZ Super."
A double whammy
Ministry officials and clerks refer to the policy as equalising the benefits and not giving advantages to “internationals” over New Zealanders. We feel this is just pretending or not wanting to see what is quite obvious if you look at the situation objectively.
The New Zealand government is not comparing like with like when it abates the CPP against NZ Superannuation. And to doubly disadvantage overseas beneficiaries, it denies people like us the benefit of paying taxes in New Zealand, because pay we do, and often for decades. But when it comes to NZ Superannuation, it turns out we have paid through our nose.
Individuals who ask for benefit reviews have so far been unsuccessful. Their attempts are usually dismissed through three successive channels of appeal. Finally, at High Court level, they are dismissed on the basis of previous cases which have been lost in previous years. This outcome is no surprise because the High Court can only test whether or not the practice is in breach of existing law, and it isn’t. However, this doesn’t mean the law doesn’t need to be changed.
John Carter denies what has been written in 2005
My letter to the respective ministry in Canada and the Canadian High Commissioner here concerning our CPP pension entitlement was sent in early 2009. I did not receive a reply. My letter to John Carter, Minister for Senior Citizens, resulted in a stock answer in May 2009, which only emphasises the importance of amending Section 70 of the New Zealand Social Security Act.
He denied the Peter Hughes option of 2005**, which said: "This option is designed to ensure that only overseas pensions that are similar to NZS are deducted." The minister at that time was David Benson-Pope and he signed the Executive Summary. Michael Cullen also was privy to it.
It takes two to tango
As my concerns are obviously falling on deaf ears with New Zealand authorities I have now approached the Canadian High Commission in Wellington. Having read the pension agreement between Canada and New Zealand, it is clear to me that the CPP is identified as part of that agreement, although the benefits refer to those other than the basic entitlement, such as widows, disabilities and other benefits.
Unless the CPP portion is withdrawn, Canadians in New Zealand will continue in the forty-year practice of being disadvantaged because the law courts can only judge on the rightful application of that agreement.
It seems the international agreement is regarded as more important to the governments than the rights of their citizens. Canada can rectify this. My wish, and that of many fellow Canadian citizens, is for Canada to renegotiate the agreement and remove the CPP part from it.
For individuals, it is like a David-and-Goliath situation in which they feel powerless. But after all, wasn’t David successful with just a staff and sling? Today’s Davidian weapons are public opinion and political pressure and we are determined to use them with just as much skill and effect.
* name changed
Two Canadian pensions are deducted from NZ Super: Jeanne Villeneuve has been getting increasingly angry over the years.
“All of our attempts have been hobbled and we have been fobbed off with thinly disguised excuses for maintaining the status quo.”
“The return of our Canadian contributions is now a debt to WINZ!”
“The New Zealand government is not comparing like with like when it abates the CPP against NZ Superannuation.”
“The High Court can only test whether or not the practice is in breach of existing law, and it isn’t. However, this doesn’t mean the law doesn’t need to be changed.”
“It seems the international agreement is regarded as more important to the governments than the rights of their citizens.”
“This is like a David-and-Goliath situation in which individuals feel powerless.”