ELECTION 2020: The political parties on retirement income

Courtesy of Lifetime Income-see below. An  omission  from the National Party statement has been included, for accuracy purposes

30 September 2020

Election 2020: What’s in it for you?

Election day is just around the corner – in fact voting starts this week for Kiwis currently overseas.  But what’s on offer for you? To help find out, we’ve contacted the five political parties currently in Parliament to hear what policies they’re offering that have the greatest impact on older people.

Remember, voting starts on Saturday 3 October 2020 if you’re in New Zealand and runs through to 7pm on election day, Saturday 17 October. If you’re overseas you can vote from Wednesday 30 September. For more information on how and where to vote see vote.nz.

The political parties are still releasing policies, so keep your eyes peeled, as more will likely be coming in the next few weeks.

Parties contacted

Remember, voting starts on 3 October if you're in New Zealand.

Remember, voting starts on 3 October if you’re in New Zealand.

 ACT New Zealand

Aged care: No specific policy.

KiwiSaver/retirement Savings: Not specified

NZ Super: Would raise the age of entitlement to New Zealand Superannuation (NZ Super) from 65 to 67, at a rate of two months per year, finishing in 2035.

Comment from ACT

ACT says it tends not to promote policies for particular demographics or communities, saying its policies are in the interests of all New Zealanders.

“This election, ACT will be the party that holds the other parties to account. We understand that it’s your grandchildren who will be saddled with debt,” it says.

“Covid-19 has changed the way we go about our lives. That doesn’t mean we should let it change the futures of our children and grandchildren by leaving them a mountain of debt that they will have to pay back through taxes. That’s what the other political parties want to do, borrow and hope for the best.”

ACT says it will ensure the other political parties are held to account and will challenge them to keep taxes and household costs low.

“We will support small businesses to thrive and ensure there is a strong economy.

ACT has a roadmap to recovery, a fully costed plan to get back to surplus and start repaying the debt now.

“The ACT Party will fight for freedom of speech, freedom of choice and less Government interference in your life. With more MPs we will ensure that we protect your freedoms.”

The Green Party

Aged care: Would establish an independent Aged Care Commissioner and Commission, with reporting and performance measures based on health outcomes and improved complaints mechanisms as soon as possible.

Plans to increase funding for aged care providers and ensure that the funding model provides viable aged care services for specific communities, including small towns and rural areas.

“We are committed to ensuring there is a high level of home support services available for people who are willing and able to continue living at home if they wish,” it says.

The Greens say it knows our ageing population needs appropriate and affordable housing, with options that provide a transition between living at home and residential care. It will investigate funding for this, as well as mandatory staff-to-resident ratios so that staffing levels in aged care are always safe, and seniors feel valued and care for.

KiwiSaver/ retirement savingsOpposes compulsory retirement savings.

NZ Super: Would keep universal superannuation available at age 65, but says the government should identify ways to allow flexibility in the age a person may receive it, for example, to allow early entry for people with a permanent health condition or disability, lower life expectancy, or as part of a Just Transition.

Comment from the Greens

“The Green Party is aware that by 2034 there will be around 1.2 million people aged over 65. Our ageing New Zealanders are productive and active participants in their communities with so much to offer. We need to make sure that our ageing population has everything they need to enjoy the later years in life.

“The Green Party believes that all New Zealanders should age positively and by this we mean, to have access to a warm place to call home, adequate income, access to health care, feel socially connected, be treated with respect and have the necessities to enjoy old age and retirement.

“The Green Party is aware that some of our older population face significant challenges, such as: loneliness and social isolation, employment issues and age discrimination, housing concerns, elder abuse, and making sure all public facilities are accessible. The Green Party supports the Better Later Life He Oranga Kaumātua 2019 to 2034 Strategy, which notes changes that need to be made to make the future better for New Zealanders as we age.”

Healthcare

“Covid-19 has shown us how much we rely on each other. It has also shown us how critical strong health services are. The Green Party believes that quality healthcare should be provided to everyone by a publicly funded health system. There should be no financial or other barriers to anyone accessing the healthcare services they need.

“We are committed to increasing public health funding to respond to the needs of our ageing population. New Zealanders deserve world-class public health services and we want to make sure our seniors can access quality, compassionate care. We will ensure information is provided and promoted among GPs, specialists, nurses and health providers about ageism, medical ageism, and the mental health issues older people face.”

Learn more about the Green’s policies.


The Labour Party

Aged care: Has committed to establishing an Aged Care Commissioner if re-elected.

NZ Super: Would keep the age of superannuation eligibility at 65.

KiwiSaver/ retirement savings: Resumed contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund when it came into office.

Comment from Labour

“People aged over 50 years make up a significant part of our society and include those in full-and part-time work, as well as retirement.

“Some older people experience financial hardship and are still paying mortgages and supporting families. Many older people, particularly those over 65, may have chronic health conditions affecting their ability to work and participate in their communities. Loneliness can also be an issue, and older people in all situations should be able to contribute to their communities in ways that work best for them.

“Labour recognises that in the post-Covid environment, this group may have additional support needs.

“In Government we have –

  • resumed contributions to the New Zealand Super Fund and kept the age of superannuation eligibility at 65;
  • passed legislation ensuring that every rental home in New Zealand meets minimum standards of heating and insulation, and that retirement village residents are recognised as paying rates and are therefore entitled to apply for a rates rebate regardless of their local authority’s billing practice;
  • ruled out a capital gains tax;
  • introduced the Winter Energy Payment for seniors and low-income households, and, in response to Covid-19, doubled this payment for 2020;
  • introduced the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme, including grants for low-income households that’ll cover two thirds of insulation and heating costs up to $2,500;
  • started rebuilding our public health service by fixing our hospitals, funding DHBs properly, taking mental health seriously, making doctors’ visits cheaper, and improving cancer prevention and care;
  • upgraded the SuperGold Card;
  • made our communities safer with more than 2,300 new police officers and tighter gun laws;
  • launched Better Later Life He Oranga Kaumātua 2019 to 2034 Strategy, our strategy to help older New Zealanders live well, focused on financial security, healthy ageing, housing, social connection, and accessibility; and made good progress developing our plan to put this strategy into action.

“Any policies related to the health and wellbeing of older people that Labour may choose to campaign on ahead of the upcoming election will be outlined in our manifesto. Labour is in the final stages of preparing its election manifesto, and this will be released in due course.”

Learn more about Labour’s policies.

The National Party

NZ Super  Will raise the age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation progressively from 65 yrs to 67 yrs of age.

Aged care: Says it is aware of widespread concern among retirement village residents throughout NZ about the fairness and fitness-for-purpose of the Retirement Villages Act 2003 and the Code of Practice (COP) pursuant to that Act, that was adopted in 2008. Would support a review of the adequacy and fairness of the Act and COP.

NZ Super: Would maintain superannuation payments at no less than 66 percent of the average wage while ensuring the long-term viability of the superannuation scheme. Couples on superannuation would receive an extra $1,000 each year, as a result of its reductions to personal income tax, through our temporary stimulus package.

KiwiSaver/ retirement savings: Has released plans to allow people who lose their jobs after 1 March 2020 and meet certain criteria to access up to $20,000 from their KiwiSaver funds to launch new businesses. Also plans to suspend contributions to the NZ Superannuation Fund.

Comment from the National Party

“National is committed to ensuring government services cater for the specific needs and challenges people encounter as they age. We believe our seniors deserve respect and recognition for their contribution to New Zealand.

National will/are:

  • Sympathetic to establishing a Seniors Commissioner and indicated support for such a Champion for the Elderlywhen Mark Sainsbury presented his petition to a parliamentary select committee earlier this year.
  • Strengthen measures to detect and prevent all forms of elder abuse (physical, psychological, and financial) while raising public awareness of the issue.  National will adequately fund the 24/7 elder abuse and neglect phone line 0800 EA NOT OK and SuperSeniors initiatives.
  • Review the Power of Attorney legislation to ensure it is fit for purpose and has adequate safeguards to prevent financial exploitation of seniors.
  • Improve access to health care services for seniors, including palliative and hospice care. A National Government will reintroduce targets to ensure the health system is focused on delivering outcomes. We will place obligations on the Minister of Health to ensure that the highest possible service standards for the provision of palliative care are in place at all times. District Health Boards will be required to develop and implement strategies to provide end of life care to all those who need it, including those in remote or isolated areas.
  • National will maintain the Winter Energy Payment.
  • Support initiatives to overcome loneliness and social isolation and reduce the worrying incidence of suicide among our seniors.
  • Deliver a world class Dementia Care Action Plan. We will establish a dedicated funding pathway under Vote Health (the main source of funding for New Zealand’s health and disability system) for dementia service, training and support, and improve diagnostic systems and methods across the health system.  We will also increase resources for respite day services and public information available about dementia to alert people to the risk factors.
  • Establish initiatives to lift the rate of digital inclusion of seniors. We will increase access to technological solutions to support seniors to live independently and provide a navigation service for seniors to assist them to access the support services that suit them best.”

New Zealand First

Aged care: Is pledging to overhaul the Retirement Village Act 2003 and bring “greater balance to the rights of residents and the rights of village owners”. It also intends to establish an independent Ministry for Seniors reporting directly to the Minister for Seniors and “disestablish the under resourced Office of Seniors inside the Ministry of Social Development”. In addition, it would ensure that the Minister for Seniors is a member of Cabinet.

NZ Super: NZ First MP Mark Patterson currently has a private member’s bill before Parliament that would require people to live in New Zealand for 20 years before they were entitled to full NZ Super payments, rather than the current 10 years.

KiwiSaver/retirement savings: Not provided.

Comments from NZ First (from current Minister for Seniors Tracey Martin)

“When previous governments have attacked the status of our seniors only New Zealand First has steadfastly defended them. From the surtax of the 1990s or more recent attempts to increase the age of entitlement it has been New Zealand First that has championed their cause and will continue to do so”.

“During Covid-19 it became obvious that our seniors were only seen by government departments as “vulnerable” and told to “go home, stay home”. With Kiwis over the age of 65 expected to grow to 1.2 million by 2034, we believe that they deserve a stronger voice in all government decisions and greater protection from legislation, particularly from the Retirement Village Act 2003 so it would be a priority for New Zealand First to overhaul the Retirement Village Act 2003 to bring greater balance to the rights of residents and the rights of Village owners.

“New Zealand First would establish an independent Ministry for Seniors reporting directly to the Minister for Seniors and disestablish the under resourced Office of Seniors inside the Ministry of Social Development. In addition, we would ensure that the Minister for Seniors is a member of Cabinet to better recognise that they represent the interest of almost a fifth of the population by 2034 – while the Minister has been in Cabinet over this term of government this is due to her other portfolios and not because of the appropriate recognition for that portfolio.

“New Zealand First also believes that there needs to be a Seniors Commissioner with powers similar to the Children’s Commissioner to advocate for seniors independent of government and monitor facilities providing services to less able members of the senior’s community. We would fund this office through the disestablishment of the current Commissioner for Financial Capability and reallocate that $8 million per annum budget to the newly established Seniors Commissioner’s Office”.

“Having spent the last three years developing the “Better Later Lives” strategy we would fully resource the strategy to address ageism and build on transitions for our over 65s. We would shift all services for seniors out of WINZs office to newly created ‘Seniors Hubs’ in recognition that superannuation is an entitlement not a benefit.

New Zealand First would build on the SuperGold website to incorporate “the Journal” and

fund initiatives such as “shop and chat” by the Student Army to combat isolation and loneliness among our seniors while also investigating the provision of sustainable funding to local community organisations to provide support to the over 65s in their community.

“New Zealand First would also investigate the removal of tiered superannuation payments based on seniors’ living arrangements to better support communal living such as Abbey Field. While there is more to do for this valued sector of New Zealand community these outline the priority areas should New Zealand First form the next government.

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