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MPs skip KiwiSaver

KiwiSaver is promoted as one of the best ways for New Zealanders to save for retirement but almost one in five members of parliament have not bothered to join the scheme.

Monday, April 18th 2016, 6:00AM

by Susan Edmunds

This year’s register of MPs’ financial interests shows most politicians have multiple trusts to their names, as well as rental properties and superannuation schemes.

But while a number of politicians have described KiwiSaver as a “no-brainer” for the average Kiwi, 23 of our 121 MPs are not members of the scheme at all.

Some high-profile names are among those who are not KiwiSaver members, including Finance Minister Bill English, Judith Collins, Paula Bennett, Steven Joyce and Anne Tolley.

Representatives for English, Collins, Bennett and Tolley did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokeswoman for Joyce said he had chosen not to join because he preferred to make his own savings arrangements for his retirement.

Another six seem disengaged – Kris Faafoi and Gerry Brownlee both list an Axa KiwiSaver account. Former default scheme Axa merged with AMP in 2013.

Another, Jenny Salesa, lists Tower KiwiSaver – which became part of Fisher Funds in that same year.

John Key is a member of a Mercer Individual Retirement Plan, parliamentary scheme, which a spokesman said was a KiwiSaver scheme.

A quarter of the members who listed a KiwiSaver scheme are members of AMP, including Commerce Minister Paul Goldsmith.

Most appear to have remained with the default provider they signed up to. Only 10 are members of a KiwiSaver scheme that is not currently a default provider.

Many MPs are members of other superannuation schemes, including specific state sector plans and parliamentary schemes.

Massey University banking commentator Claire Matthews said some MPs would have been in parliament long enough that the parliamentary schemes available to them were generous.

She said it made sense for those MPs to only have their employer contributing taxpayer money to one scheme.

Others, such as Key, were wealthy enough that KiwiSaver would not benefit them substantially, she said. “It’s not necessary for everybody but it’s every hard to say who shouldn’t be in on the basis of wealth so it’s safer to say everyone should be.”

Others who had passed the age of 65 might decide there was no longer a reason to retain their funds in a KiwiSaver account.

But she said in general it would make sense for MPs to set an example by joining. “It is the sort of thing that all New Zealanders should be in.”

Across the rest of New Zealand, about 75% of people aged 18 to 64 are members of the scheme.

Tags: KiwiSaver

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