Tough choice on superannuation
Australian political landscape for years, and new and more severe asset testing rules will kick in next month.
At that point an estimated 330,000 Australian pensioners will see their pensions reduced, with 100,000 due to lose their pensions entirely.
Similar actions in New Zealand are virtually inconceivable. For both major parties, asset testing of income (and reductions in the taxpayer support for wealthy over 65s) is simply not on their political agenda.
Once the elderly hit the age of entitlement, pensions are treated as a universal benefit.
Oddly, this universal entitlement stands in stark contrast to the way that English and his new deputy Paula Bennett have treated the other big ticket items on the welfare programme.
Strict targeting rules govern
Superannuation already dominates welfare spending and costs taxpayers roughly $11 billion a year to support.
the access to most benefits, and since 2015 the English/Bennett duo have talked loud and long about using Big Data to identify the truly needy, so that welfare spending gets reserved for those most at risk.
Such logic goes out the window however, when it comes to national superannuation.
Since taking over as PM, English has flagged the need for a debate on the subject. Already, he has indicated that he won’t necessarily sustain John Key’s pledge not to raise the age of eligibility.
Labour leader Andrew Little has immediately sensed a political opportunity: National, Little says, can’t be trusted on this issue.
Currently, Gareth Morgan seems to be the only politician willing to question whether business-as-usual on pensions policy can remain affordable.