Lot of talk this week that we need to raise the age of retirement to 67.
The argument is that we can’t afford Superannuation at 65 for everyone so we should raise it to be ‘fair’. But who exactly is that being ‘fair’ to?
It isn’t ‘fair’ to the working class of NZ who have worked physically demanding jobs, their bodies ailing and stressed, surely they deserve some reward for the hard work they have put in for their families. Adding two years until they can retire isn’t right.
It isn’t ‘fair’ to the Millennials and Gen-Xers who on top of paying for their own education and saving for their own retirement would now have to wait an extra two years before they retire. It isn’t ‘fair’ to the Baby Boomers who are now being blamed for this policy.
And it isn’t ‘fair’ to Maori and Pasifika who have lower life expectancies. Some are suggesting that retirement should be lowered for Maori but that’s a cop out because it simply accepts Maori will die earlier and we should never reward that. What we should be demanding surely is key investment in policy areas like heath.
In 2006 a survey that covered 10,000 kiwis conducted by Professor Peter Davis from Auckland University confirmed this and showed that we were living eight to nine years less than Pakeha. However the answer to our problem is not giving up and asking for the pension early but rather keeping the pressure on political parties to better resource our needs particularly in that health area.
So the only one raising the Super age is ‘fair’ for is the Government who don’t want to pay for superannuation.
This isn’t an issue of affordability or ‘fairness’, this is an attempt to start rolling back one of the last universal benefits we have. By turning this into a generation war, we are all missing who actually benefits from this, a Government who doesn’t want to accept their social obligations.
Why do we have Superannuation? We have it because we all collectively agree that there is more to life than simply working. After a lifetime of being a decent hard working kiwi, you deserve the opportunity to retire and spend time with whanau and the pursuits you put off because of needing to work.
Pushing the retirement age up would negatively impact Maori, Pasifika, working people and every Gen-X and Millennial in the country. That’s not a solution, that’s taking everyone’s right away to enjoy their retirement.
What we need to do as a country is recommit our pledge to give workers the space to live their own lives in retirement while ensuring that our young people are given the same level of support as they are growing up. Such a vision demands that we stop looking at people as a cost to the state and see them as an investment that the state has an obligation to support.
First Published in the Manukau Courier