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The status of KiwiSaver

Written By: - Date published: 3:03 pm, May 27th, 2008 - 34 comments
Categories: national, slippery - Tags:

Tracy Watkins reports:

“National has been forced into an embarrassing u-turn on KiwiSaver after its industrial relations spokeswoman Kate Wilkinson appeared to put the kibosh on a major component of the scheme. Ms Wilkinson was forced to retract comments made earlier today suggesting National would do away with the compulsory employer contribution.”

On his blog Vernon Small points out:

“It’s a classic case of ‘I’m sorry I’ll say that again’. National DOES approve of compulsory contributions to KiwiSaver schemes. But what a way to announce such a major policy…. in ‘clarifying’ her blunder National has announced what amounted to a $2 billion spending commitment… I guess that’s what happens in a policy vacuum; there are just too many things you can’t say and too many things you might say.”

Someone should tell John Key that there’s been a slip-up. Just three months ago he was hinting at changes:

‘I think it’s important to take a step back on our position on KiwiSaver. We fundamentally support savings schemes, we recognise New Zealand has a savings problem but the question has been in recent times that KiwiSaver doesn’t have a reach across a big enough number of New Zealanders.’ The scheme worked better for high-end wage earners ‘and we think there’s something we can do there. So we are looking at it’

Guess that might not have been an “in-depth” examination then?

Update: Key has said his MPs first statement was wrong but indicated her later statement was right. Key: “We haven’t finalised our KiwiSaver programme yet, but there will be compulsory employer contributions ….at pretty similar levels to what is outlined in the legislation at this point.”

34 comments on “The status of KiwiSaver ”

  1. Key: “… we recognise New Zealand has a savings problem…”

    Interestingly, if you go back to the last election, the National Party finance spokesman (sic) was quoted in the NZ Herald (front page of the Business Section) as saying that he wasn’t worried about the savings rate in NZ. The name of the finance spokesman? You guessed. John Key.

  2. James Kearney 2

    Now he’s backtracked yet again (three flip-flops in as many hours) telling Newsroom “National had not finalised its KiwiSaver programme but there would be compulsory employer contributions, probably at “pretty similar” levels to now.”

    Which is it John?

  3. gobsmacked 3

    That “National are smart not to release policy” line is looking less persuasive by the day. Is this how they want people to find out?

  4. “Pretty similar”??? “Similar” is vague enough without modifying it with “pretty”! Effectively he’s saying it’s going to be kinda like something that’s kinda like what’s there at the moment.


  5. alex 5

    We’re “sort of” comfortable with national debt at “around” 25%.

  6. Maybe Wilkinson was talking about Australian kiwisaver. Or it was a joke. Or she never said it at all…

  7. gobsmacked 7

    Newstalk ZB, TVNZ and the Herald have all got the story now:


    That even puts Tony Ryall’s GP gaffe in the shade. What a cock-up.

  8. andy 8

    600,000 people have signed up for varying reasons (not all eligible to vote mind you), but based on a long term outlook.

    He is messing with peoples retirement, and the possibility of alienating a large chunk of those people is only a policy release, or not, away.

    I think JK will announce that employers will get a tax credit for all contributions, IMO as they should.

    The Nats are looking more and more like The Benny Hill Show every day, particularly the slapstick..

  9. Embaressing indeed. Pity it isn’t National Party policy, why should employers subsidise retirement savings anyway ? Yes,yes I know they can claim contributions back as a tax expense but the way Labour makes itself free with others peoples money is getting tiresome.

  10. andy 10


    I was under the impression that employers only got to deduct in the first (1% employer contribution) year then the reduction in business tax 33% to 30% was supposed to compensate for the extra compulsory contribution??


    I like the new comment edit function, very pretty…

  11. Tane 11

    Kate Wilkinson’s reign of incompetence continues. If I were John Key I’d be removing her from the IR position quicksmart before the election campaign ramps up. In her current position she’s a major liability.

  12. Sorry to linkwhore but I need Cameron Slater to see this (I’ll probably be putting it in a few other places) –

  13. Funny thing is she actually mucked up twice in a row.

    First, she announces that National is against complusory contributions when her National party line sheet said “we will be announcing our policy on [insert policy here] closer to the election”

    Second, she retracted the first remark but, rather than replace it with the National line sheet answer as the leadership would expect her to, she said National would be keeping the contributions.

  14. Gobsmacked: “Newstalk ZB, TVNZ and the Herald have all got the story now…”

    Ah, but nothing over at NZ’s busiest political blog. hehehe

  15. Lampie 15

    hmmmmm tasty or edam?????

    *hides from SP*

  16. andy 16

    On National Radio, Key said her statement was “a mistake”.

    And you could tell from the tone of his voice he was very unhappy, no shrugs of indifference today..

    captcha; excess gov

  17. Lampie 17

    well if the next poll (I hate those things regadless which way it is pointing)shows an increase to the cheese party then sorry, majority of Kiwis are thick

  18. andy 18

    then sorry, majority of Kiwis are thick

    Maybe they are just don’t/can’t filter out the noise that is media reporting.

    Ooooh, brad and angelina have bought a castle, look….

  19. Dan 19

    How many policies have they released? Health, and Ryall announced increased doctors fees and the free market? Kiwisaver, and they stuff that up? Tax, … we are not sure now Cullen has stolen our thunder?
    No wonder there are no policies…. they don’t know what to say. Who would vote for this lot!

  20. alex 20

    I’m wondering if National’s failure to release policy of any kind is now starting to hurt them, especially now that the media is finally picking up on it.

    The people of NZ are going to start filling the blanks for them.

    Is this starting to backfire for National, or not yet?

  21. alex 21

    While watching Oral Questions today, I noted Maryan Street did herself and Labour no favours by dismissing the $65K price tag to the Housing Corp meet at the Tongariro Lodge, by saying that if this was redistributed as tax cuts it would be insignificant.

    Obviously she is technically correct, but if that is her attitude to $65K, where do you draw the line… $100K, $1mil?

    And I’m confused as to why they need to meet at the Tongariro Lodge ‘luxury’ retreat to discuss strategy and policies. No matter how you spin it I don’t see it being a good look for Labour.

  22. Tane 22

    I don’t think the government is responsible for the HNZ fiasco, but they certainly shouldn’t be defending it. The proper course of action here is to crack down on the bastards like they would’ve in ’99.

  23. alex 23

    Also: can someone post a graph of amount of savings with time of a typical kiwi that would be lost if National cap Employer contributions at 1% compared to moving to 4% as per Labour’s plan?

  24. Quoth the Raven 24

    I like National’s excuse for this one. Their industrial relations spokeswoman isn’t told what their industrial relations policies are.
    I wonder if John ‘danger Will Robinson danger’ Key knows?

  25. Dean 25

    “Interestingly, if you go back to the last election, the National Party finance spokesman (sic) was quoted in the NZ Herald (front page of the Business Section) as saying that he wasn’t worried about the savings rate in NZ. The name of the finance spokesman? You guessed. John Key.”

    Interestingly, if you go back a few years, Clark went on record as saying she didn’t want to see a ban on smacking as law. “I think you’re trying to defy human nature”, she said.

    In my case, the jury is out on the anti smacking debate, but I do wonder where you guys get the idea Key is the flip flop master when Clark has so many utter clangers to call her own.

  26. Lampie 26

    Maybe they are just don’t/can’t filter out the noise that is media reporting.

    Think your right there

    haha there is that “awareness” again 🙂

  27. andy 27


    I got the impression that it was so double super secret that those on the outer rim (2nd tier, all except murray, john and bil) of the Nats know nothing, have been told to STFU! But wilkinson didn’t get the email..

    It was a complete clanger, 1 gazillion times worse than Goff.

    The idea that the nats have a secret agenda will bubble forth (Their industrial relations spokeswoman isn’t told what their industrial relations policies are, this breeds suspicion amongst the press)if they do not shut this down and get all team members on message, cause who are the reporters suposed to ask if not the spokes person for that particular policy area. I get the impression that the inner circle of nats have it all mapped out, they just don’t trust the foot soldiers yet, this is starting to breed suspicion in the press and once the press gallery are bored or smell blood, the honeymoon is over..

    For a government in waiting the media management has been piss poor. Lets be real, they have a sweet ride and they are still f%^&^%ng it up left right and centre. If JK was running a business they would have been on fair go and target.

  28. randal 28

    national feeds off uncertainty and kiwisaver is anathema to them because it offers security to wage earners.

  29. gobsmacked 29

    Colin Espiner (Press) is pretty scathing on his blog:

    “Signing up to yet another big-ticket Labour spending policy is bad enough. Being forced into announcing it because of a slip-up by one of its own MPs is amateur hour stuff. … Too many slip-ups like today and the public might start wondering whether National is really ready to run the country after all.”

  30. Employers can wangle their way out of making the employer contribution to Kiwisaver by taking it out of your wages with your agreement. They reduce your salary by the relevant amount. This article in the Herald explains how employers can make you pay their share….legally.


    gobsmacked: Espiner’s description of the existing policy is also revealing: “yet another big-ticket Labour spending policy”

    andy: If the “inner circle:” of the nats have it all mapped out, who the hell is making policy in that party? Certainly not the members or even those elected.

  31. Tane 31

    Steve W: They can if you’re on an individual agreement (well they can do anything) but at unionised sites that have collective in place it’s a lot harder for employers to get away with that kind of behaviour. That’s not to say they don’t try though.

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