Bill English’s announcement that National will increase the age of eligibility for superannuation will not only hurt Generation X unfairly, it will also hit manual workers, Māori, and migrants hard.
For many people, a lifetime of hard physical labour means retirement at age of 65 is a physical necessity. And for Māori, who are frequently in this work category, having a shorter life expectancy than non-Māori compounds the difficulties of increasing the retirement age.
Currently, Māori die around seven years earlier than non-Māori, with their life expectancy being around 73 years for Māori men and around 77 for Māori women. That is compared to 80 and 83 years for non-Māori men and women respectively yet, despite this difference, they all become eligible for superannuation at the same time. We all pay for this universal benefit through our taxes and, since Māori also spend less time receiving this benefit, there’s a case to be had that their contributions are greater.
Given these inequities, we believe that there should be a wider investigation into changes to the retirement age and that this should be cross-party to ensure that NZ Super is de-politicised as much as possible. National have chosen instead to make Super highly political, right before our general election.
The other area that needs to be more closely and fairly examined is the amount of time a new New Zealander has to live here before becoming eligible for national superannuation. At the moment it is 10 years however the Government proposes to increase that wait to 20 years. When we add this policy to others from the National Government, like closing the immigration category for parents, National risk creating a legacy of two different classes of New Zealanders — one that is protected from poverty in old age and one that isn’t.