Labour Minister Kris Faafoi hints $1000 KiwiSaver kickstart may be coming back

Labour Minister Kris Faafoi has hinted the Labour-led Government may reintroduce the $1000 KiwiSaver kickstart that National canned.

In 2015, the National Government scrapped the KiwiSaver kickstart, a $1000 tax-free Government contribution previously given to all New Zealanders who signed up to the scheme.

At the time, Labour's David Clark accused National of stealing from future generations, but now the current Government looks like it may reintroduce the one-off payment.

On The AM Show on Friday, Mr Faafoi was asked why Oranga Tamariki may oppose a National-backed private member's Bill to make it easier for foster children to sign up to KiwiSaver.

"I'll tell you why, there is nothing stopping them doing it now," he said.

"Oranga Tamariki used to do it automatically, but they stopped doing that… because the previous National government got rid of the $1000 kickstart so it wasn't worth it."

When asked on the show by National MP Judith Collins why the Government didn't reintroduce the kickstart if it was making it less attractive for foster children to sign up to KiwiSaver, Mr Faafoi hinted the Government might.

"Just wait and see what we might do," Mr Faafoi replied. "All I can tell you Judith, is that you definitely got rid of it."

"If it is not in the budget, we will hold you to account," she said.

Simplicity founder Sam Stubbs may disagree with Mr Faafoi's suggestion that foster parents can easily sign children in their care up to the scheme "if they go to Oranga Tamariki now and ask".

"It is virtually impossible for them to have a KiwiSaver account because the current law says that either the natural parents or the guardians have to sign them up," Mr Stubbs told The AM Show on Wednesday.

"The natural parents obviously aren't there [while] the guardian becomes the state, and what the state does is take an impossibly long time to do things."

Mr Stubbs said it takes five minutes for most parents in New Zealand to sign their kids up to the scheme, but he has heard cases where for some foster parents it has taken up to five years to have children in their care signed up.

Mr Stubbs said the scheme was in many ways far more suited for foster children because the children often go through many sets of homes, meaning their money should be protected as KiwiSaver does.

"In one instance we spoke to a grandparent that said 'we want to give this child some money, but I want to know it won't be stolen by someone I don't know about'," he said.

"[Money in KiwiSaver] is only there for their benefit, and only in instances of hardship, or the first home, or retirement, can they take it out."


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