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Maori Party not supporting KiwiSaver

The Maori Party is sticking to its pre-election line on superannuation – and will not be supporting the KiwiSaver Bill.

Wednesday, July 19th 2006, 6:51AM

by Rob Hosking

The party’s Member of Parliament sitting on the finance and expenditure select committee, Hone Harawira, told Parliament that while the party believes the “Government is to be commended for its efforts to set up a workplace scheme to encourage people to sign up to long-term retirement savings plans, with the offer of a $1000 Government sweetener to get things rolling”, it will not be supporting that bill. KiwiSaver does not do enough for the less well-off, “particularly the whanau of the working poor and the families of beneficiaries,” Harawira says.

The 4% minimum threshold for contributions is too high, he told Parliament.

“That is a real problem for those on low incomes, and particularly for low-income working families, and we note here that for a young family with the breadwinner on a minimum wage, that will mean a drop in wages which they simply cannot afford.

“We note that at 4%, the bill also makes it impossible for beneficiaries to join the scheme, and given that unemployment for Maori is three times higher than for the general population, Maori will be doubly penalised.”

The party also says the age at which people can draw down KiwiSaver – 65 – discriminates against Maori because Maori die earlier.

The Maori Party also believes the first home buyer $5000 available to people who join KiwiSaver is too small.

“With the continuing rise in house prices, it is unrealistic for a family on a weekly income of $290, to service a $200,000 mortgage.”

The Maori Party’s chief of staff, Harry Walker, told Good Returns the party’s position has not changed since the select committee hearings on the legislation.

Rob Hosking is a Wellington-based freelance writer specialising in political, economic and IT related issues.

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