The New Superannuation and Retirement Income (Pro-Rata Entitlement) Amendment Bill 2015, in the name of Denis O’ Rourke of the New Zealand First party, was recently defeated at the Parliament.
The Bill proposed pro-rata entitlement to pension based on the time spent in New Zealand.
The Bill would have allowed a full pension only to those who, between the age of 20 and 65, had spent less than five years living outside New Zealand.
While on the face of it, the Bill sounded as being fair to all, it was in fact misconceived.
It would have created divisions and different classes in New Zealand.
It was disappointing to note the line of parties that were supporting the bill.
The Greens, Labour and Maori Party supported the proposed legislation, while National and Act party opposed it.
It was India that used to be criticised, and rightly denounced, for its caste and class system but this Bill was doing exactly the opposite.
It was promoting divisions and classes in the society.
It would have created a second class citizen status, for many New Zealanders, when it comes to their pension entitlements.
It would have taken us all back to the debate as to who is a New Zealander.
The Bill implies that even someone born in New Zealand is not entitled to full pension, if he or she lived overseas for more than five years. This would have affected many New Zealander’s who go overseas for their OE (Overseas Experience).
But the biggest impact would have been on all the migrants.
They would have been automatically excluded from full pension because by the time they arrive in New Zealand, most of them would be more than 25 years old.
If the proposition in the bill was indeed fair, as Mr O’Rourke and New Zealand First members have been suggesting, then the simple equation of fairness would have been to introduce, as well, a pro rata tax rate based on the length of stay – longer the stay, higher the tax.
Someone who has been in New Zealand for less time should not be burdened by the full tax rates when they have not been availing of all the privileges and services available here, while they were overseas.
Some of these brilliant minds, bringing such bills, need to shun the divisive politics so that New Zealand can progress as a collective nation.
Gurbrinder Aulakh is a Barrister and Solicitor based in Auckland. Email: Aulakh@Bogiatto.co.nz