Red Alert

Posts Tagged ‘kiwisaver’

Older New Zealanders : How would you advocate for older New Zealanders? Labour Leadership Q&A #10

Posted by on September 13th, 2013

14 Questions for 2014

Virtual Hustings Meeting – Question 10

Older New Zealanders : How would you advocate for older New Zealanders?

Question : Senior people (those 50+) represent 53% of NZ voters, currently. As an active Labour supporter for some 40 odd years, I have been seeking from the Labour party the policy which will bring this group to strongly support Labour in 2014. Are any of the leadership candidates able to state what he is prepared to advocate for us, Seniors?

Submitted by : Dean Chandler-Mills, Birchville

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Explanatory Note: From September 10th to 14th 2013 as part of the official selection process for a new leader the New Zealand Labour Party is holding a “Virtual Hustings Meeting” hosted by Red Alert and organised by Scoop Amplifier. Over 7 days questions were solicited from eligible voters in the election. The questions and answers are now being posted as a set of 14 posts at the Red Alert Labour Party Blog. This started Tuesday 10th September, and continues till Friday 13th September. At Red Alert all-comers are welcome to discuss the answers in the comment section of the blog. The candidates are expected to participate in these discussions at times over the five days till Saturday 14th September.

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LABOUR LEADERSHIP CANDIDATES’ ANSWERS

Answer from Shane Jones

Senior people, myself included 54 years old, can expect from me affordability for doctors visits and prescriptions.

This is extremely important given the ageing profile of our society. Supporting the St Johns Ambulance service is vital to many senior people especially in the regions.

Personal security is a major priority. I am prepared to examine the feasibility of assisting seniors to keep there residences secure

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Answer from Grant Robertson

Labour must ensure that older New Zealanders continue to be valued for the contribution they make to the community.

One important policy is to ensure that aged care is funded and delivered well. This means enabling people to stay in their homes as long as possible through good in-home support, and investing in aged care facilities so that they have the quantity and quality of staffing that is needed.

This will mean minimum staffing levels and improved pay and conditions for rest home workers. I believe older New Zealanders should have the opportunity to learn, re-train and pass on skills.

I would restore funding for Adult and Community Education, and reverse National’s changes to student loans that are both limiting the opportunities of older New Zealanders. In addition programmes like SuperGrans and MenzSheds need to be supported to give the chance for older New Zealanders to pass on their skills.

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Answer from David Cunliffe

It has to be more than one policy.

We need to get it right from the start. We need a transformative economic agenda that creates a fairer, more prosperous New Zealand.

A better future with well-paid jobs, and where people are respected and valued. A future that is full of opportunities: a good public education; housing; free health care, and a secure retirement.

Our Party’s values recognise that older New Zealanders built this country and deserve respect and we value the skills, knowledge, and experience that older people contribute to their families and communities.

Labour will support older New Zealanders to be fit and able – not only to contribute to the workforce and communities but to enjoy their retirement in good health

ENDS


Tax pain time

Posted by on March 26th, 2013

Next week thousands upon thousands of New Zealanders will wake up to a cut in their take-home pay because of policy decisions by the National/United Future government.

From 1 April 2013 the minimum KiwiSaver contribution is increasing from 2% to 3%, while the Student Loan compulsory repayment jumps a whopping 20% to 12 cents in every dollar earned over the repayment threshold.

Now Labour stands for a gradual move to universal, employment-based KiwiSaver contributions over time, because that will grow the economy and secure savers in retirement.

But with unemployment today at record levels, and with so many families only just getting by, it’s crucial that changes which hit people in the pocket are well-signalled and well-understood before they take effect.

Complex communications around tax changes need to be relevant. Some Kiwis watch the 6pm news; others will see billboards on the daily commute; and web-savvy students might expect important information to be pushed to them through social media.

Ultimately the obligation for quality communications falls squarely to Revenue Minister and United Future leader Peter Dunne.

But over and over again I’ve heard that many Kiwis have no idea how next week they’ll have less cash-in-hand to feed the kids and pay the mortgage.

That’s not good enough from Mr Dunne. That’s not good enough from the National/United Future Government.

Now too many Kiwi taxpayers find a phone call to the IRD an exercise in frustration.

But you can bet there’ll be lots of calls on pay day next week.

Too often people who phone the IRD contact line get put in a long, long queue (last time I tried I waited 45 minutes).

Even worse, callers are sometimes flatly told by a machine “We’re too busy – call back later” then disconnected. This is just not good enough. It is the taxpayer who is liable if issues are not resolved. Any Government has a duty to facilitate good compliance.

Therefore it’s a bit of a worry that IRD had its staffing slashed by 6% last year.

Who is going to answer all the calls?

And with the external communications so lacklustre, how can we be confident that Peter Dunne has ensured IRD’s own staff know what’s going on?

Fortunately (for the first time in quite a long while) Mr Dunne has pinned his colours to the mast.

I asked Dunne Parliamentary Written Question 1401 (2013), and here’s what the Revenue Minister has assured the public:

Portfolio: Revenue
Minister: Hon Peter Dunne
Question: Is he confident that the Inland Revenue Department is adequately staffed to manage any requests from businesses related to the change in minimum KiwiSaver contributions?

Answer Text: Yes.

Next week we shall see whether Peter Dunne’s word is more credible than his department’s communications.


Novopay Issues #1

Posted by on February 25th, 2013

Plenty has already been said about the Novopay shambles. The system was never ready for implementation, it never should’ve been signed-off, and the safeguards and contingencies that should have been in place weren’t. I’ll keep holding the government to account for their failure, but I’ll also be picking up specific issues and, where I can, working to ensure that people aren’t disadvantaged in the long-term because of Novopay.

Last week in the House I asked the Minister Responsible for Novopay, Steven Joyce, some questions about Novopay not handing over Kiwisaver contributions to savings providers. The money is being taken from employees pay packets, but it’s not showing up in their Kiwisaver accounts. In some cases I’m aware of, this has been going on for months and months. Not only are the employees concerned worried about where their money has gone, they’re also missing out on the returns that would otherwise have accrued had their money been paid over on time.

The most important comment Steven Joyce made was this one:

Chris Hipkins: Will employees who have had KiwiSaver or other superannuation contributions deducted from their salaries but not paid over to their scheme provider be compensated for lost returns that would otherwise have accrued, and if not, why not?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: My understanding is that yes, they will be made good in those regards.

I welcome this commitment by Joyce. It means that not only will people affected get their money back, they will be compensated for any returns that would’ve accrued in the meantime. I’ll be interested to see the details of exactly how they’re going to calculate that, and will ask some more questions in that regard.

There are other specific concerns about Novopay that I hope to address in coming weeks, including people defaulting on child support payments, justice ministry payments, student loan repayments, and so on. I’ll blog more about those as the answers come through.


National destroys all attempts at saving

Posted by on May 20th, 2011

National governments have a track record for wrecking any attempts by Labour governments at increasing our savings record.  The 1975 Labour government established a compulsory national super contributory scheme.  the 1975 Muldoon government cancelled it illegally.  The Cullen Fund has been very successful at putting money away to fund super payments.  This national government has suspended payments into that scheme.  Labour’s Kiwi Saver scheme has been successful beyond all expectations.  Today National will pass legislation changing it and thus breaking the rules under which 1.7 million Kiwis joined the scheme.  You can’t trust them.


Making Sh*t Up

Posted by on May 18th, 2011

I know sometimes people find it hard to understand why some of us, especially Labour MPs, get so upset with that “nice Mr Key”. Of course we disagree on policy, but in part I think it is because we see a side of him in Parliament others don’t. Also for me its about his tendency, to use the phrase of the moment, to “make sh*t up”.

An article in yesterday’s Dominion Post on the likelihood of further public service cuts included the following statement from John Key.

They have typically been having higher levels of wage increases prior to National coming into office; public sector wages outstripped private sector wages for a long period of time.

The problem is this is just not backed up by any evidence. Actually the Treasury told them the opposite just after the election. Ruth Dyson as Labour’s State Services Spokesperson released that document yesterday, which Labour had obtained under the OIA. It says

Public sector wage increases have not outstripped the private sector with the exception of the education and health sectors, which arguably address legacy problems and respond to international markets

The reference to education and health is to pay increases for doctors, nurses and teachers that occured under Labour. The PM in the article is talking about the core public service. In actual fact under the last Labour government the pay for “core government administration” was almost exactly in line with private sector wage increases. The PM has just made something up to suit his agenda. He needs to be called out on this, and its good the Dom Post have done so.

The NZ Herald also has an article that covers the PMs (deliberate?) vagueness, with the news that he is not sure if he is a member of Kiwisaver.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday could not remember if he was a member of KiwiSaver. “I’m a member of whatever that Government scheme is that applied to members [of parliament] that came in in 2002. “I think it might be [KiwiSaver] but I’m not 100 per cent sure.”

The register shows that Mr Key has an “individual retirement plan”.

I am sure there are a few Kiwis who would love to be in a position when you are not really sure if you are in Kiwisaver!

All over the details, that’s our PM.


Harmos on sovereignty and saving

Posted by on January 19th, 2010

Andrew Harmos chairs the NZX. His article albeit defensive makes a case for not selling the NZX to the Aussies. It is not a hard case to make.

Buried in the article is a plea to make Kiwisaver compulsory. Again not a hard case to make and interesting that it is buried rather than front and centre.

Never heard a word as the Nats cut Kiwisaver back.

But still an issue than needs debating. My opinion is that compulsory Kiwisaver  has to happen if we are to get the savings and financial literacy necessary to close that gap with Aussie. And not at half a per cent either.