Labour leader strong on super stance
Prime Minister Bill English believes other parties will eventually get on board over raising the pension age - but Labour leader Andrew Little says not on his watch.
Labour campaigned on raising the pension age at the last election but Little ditched the policy after his predecessor David Cunliffe was forced to step down.
In an echo of former prime minister John Key, Little is pegging his leadership to the policy.
Asked if Labour could support a rise in the pension age, Little responded: ‘‘Not while I’m leader. I stood for the leadership of the party, went round the party members and won that vote. It was pretty clear they did want us to stick with 65 as the age of eligibility. It is the party policy and I don’t see that changing.’’
English announced on Monday that if re-elected National would progressively raise the age for superannuation from 65 to 67, starting in 2037 and being fully implemented by 2040.
He said Tuesday other politicians were standing back to see how voters reacted before deciding if they could support the policy.
‘‘I won’t be surprised if politicians’ initial reaction is that this is a difficult issue and they’d like to see how it’s going to run with the public before they decided they could support it.’’
But Little said there was an issue of fairness, particularly with people engaged in physical work.
‘‘I’ve dealt with people who are struggling to work till 65 now before they can retire with national super. I just do not see it as fair or reasonable that they have to work another couple of years.’’
National appears to be confident, however, that by pushing the qualifying date out till 2040, it has lessened the likely political fallout. But it won’t progress legis- lation till after the 2017 election, meaning any coalition agreements could scuttle it before the plan is even implemented.
Future Parliaments could also easily reverse it with seven parliamentary terms between now and when the policy takes effect.
Key to whether the proposal will go anywhere is NZ First leader Winston Peters, who has made enshrining the pension age a bottom line at previous elections - though Peters refused to be pinned down on whether that would again be the case, saying the change was so far ahead it was ‘‘meaningless’’.