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Prebble doesn't think much of the Government's super scheme

ACT leader Richard Prebble says a well designed superannuation scheme could encourage people's capitalism.

Wednesday, January 17th 2001, 2:31PM
ACT says the only real sustainable solution to the superannuation crisis, is a scheme that allows New Zealanders to save for their retirement in accounts of their choice, in their name, in the private sector — a scheme very much like the one MPs have for themselves.

It appears that superannuation will be a big issue again in 2001. As a nation we are tired of superannuation debates and being lied to by politicians.

The Cullen scheme is at least doing something, but the Devil is in the detail with superannuation. With Cullen's scheme, the whole of Hell is in the detail.

Cullen's fund is run by government — that is, by politicians.

It is not a genuine savings scheme, it only smoothes the cost — first building up a fund and then running it down. A child born in 2001 will pay into the scheme their whole life, yet when they retire and need to access their contribution, the fund will be exhausted. The scheme is not sustainable — at some point taxpayers will revolt.

A fund equal to the total stock market capitalisation gives too much power to the government. Already the Greens are saying that the cost of their support is directives to the fund managers — which will hammer the returns.

We are being sold the scheme dishonestly. It will come out of surpluses says the Finance Minister, as if this was money for nothing. Surpluses are taxes, taxes that come from the hard work of ordinary New Zealanders. The Cullen plan would lock New Zealand into a high tax future.

ACT is a party founded to reform superannuation. We have welcomed the Cullen bill as a chance to have a real debate on super and to reach a consensus.

Dr Cullen has indicated a willingness to accept constructive amendments.

ACT is taking Dr Cullen at his word and will propose amendments designed to make the super scheme fair, to remove the scheme from political control, to make the scheme positive for the economy, and to give New Zealanders the ability to own some of their own country.

Freedom, choice and responsibility are meaningless slogans unless people are able to enjoy that freedom, exercise real choice and take responsibility.

We need a superannuation scheme that gives all New Zealanders the ability to say "I own some of this country, I am a stakeholder, I have capital that is mine, I can be independent in my retirement and I can leave something for my children".

I believe that just as Maggie Thatcher's people's capitalism let millions of English people become first time stakeholders and forever changed their outlook, a well designed super scheme could cause a similar change in our outlook.

Left leaning governments in Germany, Italy and Sweden, have recognised this fact and are now introducing personal superannuation investment accounts to allow all their citizens to become stakeholders in their country.

Too many adult New Zealanders vote for handouts because they do not see themselves as taxpayers or consumers but simply as beneficiaries.

ACT wants every New Zealander to be a stakeholder — so that they care about how the country is performing and will think critically about the promises of politicians.

This is an extract from ACT leader Richard Prebble's State of the Nation speech.

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