Well colour me surprised. Signs of independent and rational thought in the Nat caucus?! The issue is superannuation and whether, with NZ’s changing population structure, super is affordable in its current form. We all know the background. Voters support change – raising the age of eligibility – and this was Labour’s policy going in to the last election.
The problem for the government, of course, is Key’s promise to resign rather than raise the age (one of the promises that he seems to have decided not to break or forget). So the Nats are running a government that is abdicating its responsibility to plan for (and give we the people time to plan for) the long term viability of our support for the elderly. Because of Key they’re stuck with it.
Or are they? One News was reporting last night what seems to be a split within National over the issue:
Key in the dark over superannuation review
John Key might think New Zealand can afford national superannuation the way it is, but others within his Cabinet seem to be questioning that stance.
… a growing number of economists feel that with an ageing population, national super is not sustainable as it is. And now one of Key’s own ministers wants the issue formally looked at by Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan.
Key appeared surprised when ONE News asked him what he thought about Commerce Minister Craig Foss giving the Retirement Commissioner the go-ahead to look at the issue. …
In a letter to the Retirement Commissioner, Foss sets out the topics the Government “requires to be addressed in the 2013 review”, including the effects of people living longer on savings schemes, and the sustainability of national super.
Key told ONE News he does not know why Foss has asked that. “It’s also true that Treasury does a lot of work, but my view is that it is affordable and sustainable.” Labour MP David Parker hit back, saying: “Once again John Key doesn’t know what’s going on in his Government.”
Credit to Foss and any others who are backing him in this matter. Key’s foolish promise should not prevent the government from exploring the issues properly, and with Foss’s go-ahead that process can now take place.
Is this move an individual decision from Foss, or is he representing a faction within National that actually has a conscience and a concern for the principles of responsible government? I have no idea (being no kind of political insider!). But I do find it interesting that this minor rebellion, this faint flickering of independent and rational thought, has taken place at a time when Key is plummeting from grace faster than a Felix Baumgartner free-fall.