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Greens give read light to Govt fund

Greens back universal super; will vote against fund.

Sunday, June 3rd 2001, 12:05PM

The Green caucus firmly supports universal provision of superannuation at the current levels but does not believe the Government's pre-funding proposal is the best way to achieve that commitment.

"The Greens will vote for Part 1 of the bill which guarantees super to everyone aged 65 and over at 65 percent of the average wage (for a couple), because pensioners have a right to a secure, stress-free retirement. However we don't believe a pre-fund is the best way of achieving stability for super, and we will vote against Part 2 of the Bill which sets up the fund," said Green co-leader Rod Donald.

"This has been a tough decision but we have made it based on the best information available rather than taking a politically expedient decision."

Donald says evidence shows that the current 'pay as you go' system is sustainable, and there is no need for urgent or radical changes to the current system. The Greens were extremely concerned that the requirement to pre-fund super would be a straight-jacket on all future Government spending decisions.

"A fund of this size, peaking at 50 percent of GDP, would suck dry future budgets. We see the Government struggling to fund tertiary education and health adequately in this year's budget, despite a relatively small commitment of $600 million to the fund. In three years, they will be forced to find $2.5 billion for the fund, which could leave other portfolios like health and education even worse off," he said.

"We're also concerned at revelations this week that the Government has increased debt to pay for the fund."

The primary question to ask is whether budget surpluses could be invested in a way which would offer all New Zealanders a better future, without affecting the guarantee of universal super?

"The Greens believe the money should be invested directly by the Government to create full employment which is both productive and meaningful, create stronger communities and preventative health, combat climate change and pay off the crown debt of over $20 billion, instead of giving it into the hands of professional investors to take risks with.

"The Government hasn't responded positively to our concerns about the need for the fund to be invested ethically and predominantly in New Zealand, which has reinforced our decision not to vote for the fund."

Mr Donald said he was aware of and sympathised with the public desire for a cross-party consensus on super.

"We don't want to see super used as a political football at the next election, but the Government has to recognise that cross-party consensus requires consultation before a solution is announced. The lack of a majority to get this Bill through makes it obvious that there is much more work to be done before a true cross-party consensus is reached."

 

Greens oppose pre-funding - story here

To read Rod Donald's full speech CLICK HERE
Find out Michael Cullen's reaction
here

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