Break open the Champagne.


Why so quiet Minister Sepuloni?  This is amazing and was found by chance on your department’s website.  Is vindication  for the small group of superannuitants affected by the Spousal Provision applied under section 70 of the Act imminent?

When this unequivocal statement was first discovered there was great jubilation, albeit tinged with anger that it had taken so long.  

Then doubts crept in.  If this is genuine new policy, why it was buried in the budget? Being such a contentious issue, some fanfare and spin would surely have been expected.  I was at the social sector lockup and it was not mentioned at all. It is very hard to find any indication of it in the budget documents, and what is there is fudged in a very ambiguous fact sheet .

Along with many others, the Retirement Policy and Research Centre has worked assiduously for at least a decade to alert the public and politicians to grave anomalies in the policy for superannuitants with overseas state pensions.

Of these multiple anomalies the one that takes the cake is the ‘spousal provision’ .  On The Daily Blog you can read about it here: Justice delayed is democracy’s undoing and here: Policy changes to a festering sore are sadly in the far distance: and here Mean and petty and  wrong

This policy reduces a person’s superannuation when their partner has an overseas pension. A woman could have lived and worked all her life in New Zealand and entered into a second or third relationship later on life only to find to her horror that she gets less NZS, or even nothing, and thus loses her financial independence. Increasingly, men who marry women with long working histories from other countries are affected as well.

Fobbed off with promises for years that something is coming, usually after yet another report, a great deal of   bitterness and cynicism has festered. Early in 2018 three affected superannuitants, at great personal cost, went to the Human Rights Review Tribunal. A week of lengthy and banal filibuster submissions flowed from MSD to justify this anachronistic policy.  Fifteen months on, there is still no decision and nothing on the horizon. The best guess was that it would take three years to learn of the verdict given the backlog.

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But maybe it is now irrelevant. If you look really hard, there is a line in the appropriations of $2 million allocated for 2020 to fix this anomaly.    Change is coming not because this is a human rights abuse (as Jacinda Ardern said in opposition in 2015), but because the system needed ‘modernisation’.  Slowly it is dawning that there has indeed been a genuine change of heart and all the affected spouses will get relief from 2020. Just like that. Lets break out the champagne after all these years of fighting!

The Spousal Provision clearly has been a source of extreme distress for so long for the 500 or so couples affected and the removal will greatly improve their financial situation. The mystery remains as to why the government not been trumpeting the new policy as  yet another example of how they are putting well-being of people first and not anachronistic and heartless, unintelligent, petty policies from the 19th century.  



  1. Yes and how come our mainstream media haven’t highlighted something so good as this, people have been lobbying our governments for some time perhaps our media are too busy trying to score brownie points

  2. It’s because this government is essentially a right wing government and will do anything they can to avoid being called socialists.

    • Chris
      Do you mean they want to do good but fear the label of socialist? That would not make them right wing- but a bit wishy washy. In all my years of budget watching I have never encountered something so fudged and buried. All this when it was actually very cheap to do and would make 500 people very very happy. Maybe that is why I am not a politician I just don’t get it

      • I think Labour is essentially a right wing party. There’s no other explanation for it’s attitude towards benefits and beneficiaries since 1991, particularly during the Clark years. They’ve been actively attacking beneficiaries since then, too, by supporting the Key government’s welfare reforms in 2014 and then passing the nasty Social Security Act 2018 which Key’s government also put together.

        • They rewrote the purposes and principles of the SS Act with amendment in 2007 that puts paid work at the centre and the requirement to look to your own resources before asking for anything from the state. That paved the way for National to push the boundaries and narrowed the interpretation of what welfare is for. Until Labour owns its own role in the social disaster that has emerged we wont get the transformation

          • Be careful Professor St John before National-lite asks for its gong back (I gather you haven’t actually been invested with it yet and that the bauble rests on a plumped cushion somewhere in Government House? Whatever, I just hope Treasury isn’t guarding the thing).

            • The more people tell the truth about what Labour did to beneficiaries during the Clark years the better. The “Labour-can-do-no-wrong” brigade, a number of whom hang out over at The Standard, refuse to accept what Labour did over that time. Labour needs to acknowledge what they did if they’re ever truly going to gain the respect they seem to so desperately crave, apart from their hard core supporters, of course, who are likely to remain just as blind for as long as Labour keeps its head in the sand.

  3. It’s my opinion that there’s no longer such a thing as ‘Left’ or ‘Right in AO/NZ politics if indeed there ever was. Our politics have become something else altogether.
    I think [it’s] to do with our post colonial history and of how our economy was agrarian and now? Everywhere I look, I see desperate efforts to deny that. Tourism, cowsploitation, pine forests on arable, food producing farm land… anything, anything at all to avoid an uncomfortable reality. An uncomfortable truth.
    Why do our politicians and media deny such a tremendous thing? To produce foods in abundance for a hungry world. A market we have a seasonal advantage over against our competitors to supply. Not withstanding South America and Australia.
    Left and Right politics is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter who’s ‘in’. They all have one agenda. To maintain the status quo. And that status quo is as the result of of criminal and treasonous activity.
    AO/NZ =
    Big. Rich. Export revenue earned from food production exported. Pretend otherwise if you must.
    Small population @ 4.7 m.
    Land area = 25 sq km bigger than UK.
    Canterbury alone = size of Holland @ 45 K sq km
    Canterbury population= 600,000.
    Holland Population= 17 million.
    I asked Lianne Dalziel opposition minister of finance once after I quoted the above facts ” So? Where’s our money then?” She said ” I don’t know. ”
    Should we not be thinking of finding out where missing multiples of billions of dollars spanning many generations has literally vanished to?
    I know I sound mad and hysterical but hey? If you can’t let your hair down amongst friends, right?

  4. What bothers me about this is they treat superannuates as individuals but if you are unemployed but your partner works they treat you as a couple and you get no support.

    • Mark
      they talk about this policy in terms of moving towards individual entitlement. Do hey have a wider vision of all benefits being on an individual basis? And all the rates married and single aligned?

      • Well Im physically disabled and get discriminated against by employers so I cant get a job and I have been stuck in this situation for 15 years now.
        Wife and I arent getting ahead in life at all, feel let down by the entire system.

        • Hi Susan, Mark….I notice from the link …

          … that they are also going to get rid of the non-qualifying partner provision.

          I have been the fulltime unpaid carer of my high needs disabled partner for twenty years, and until he qualified for NS was paid under his Supported Living Payment after providing evidence to WINZ that I was indeed his full time carer. Going onto the Super has provided a little more income and a whole lot less disrespect from WINZ.

          However…if they are going to get rid of the Non qualifying partner provision how will that affect those other younger spouses who provide a high level of unpaid care and there fore cannot work?

          “The changes reflect society today. In most households both partners work. ” does not apply in our case.

          I have written to Sepuloni and Martin for clarification.
          And yes, it appears they will allow those of us already enjoying this accommodation to continue with this provision…but having spent the best part of fifteen years fighting against the discrimination shown by successive governments towards the family carers of very high needs non-ACC disabled I will not countenance any disadvantage for those following behind who are in the same situation.

          Because the other not-too -expensive- but- will -make -a -swag- of -folks- very -happy would have been an announcement repealing the iniquitous Part4 amendment to the Public Health and Disability Act which was Nationals response to the Family Carers case that was also won by the OHRP but eight years ealier than the Overseas Pension case.

          Congratulations on your gong Susan…you have actually earned it.

          • Hi Rosemary
            thanks for kind comments. I agree there are real fish hooks with the NQP pension abolition. It is worrying that the SP removal is coupled with the NQP change and I hope the latter does not derail the former

    • Superannuant’s are treated as a couple same as beneficiaries.
      The difference is if you work as a supperanuant they don’t apply your wages against it if you work.

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