Former Labour president says superannuation used as battleground for attacks on National

A former Labour Party president says its latest superannuation announcement is a way for the party to go on the attack against National's reputation.

Labour revealed its first election policy of 2023 on Saturday, promising the retirement age will remain at 65 if re-elected.

Meanwhile, National and ACT want to gradually lift the age to 67, while Te Pāti Māori wants to lower the age for Māori. 

BusinessDesk senior correspondent Dileepa Fonseka told Newshub Nation's political panel it was a strange policy for the battleground of the election because it is not something people necessarily discuss.

He said one of the big problems with superannuation is the people retiring in the next few years will be living longer and therefore in 20-30 years New Zealand will potentially have a "big Budget problem".

But former Labour Party president Mike Williams wasn't surprised at the announcement. He said Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni used it as a way to attack National's reputation of being a better economic manager. 

Newshub climate correspondent Isobel Ewing agreed.

"I think it's quite a shrewd battleground to take because it's an opportunity to feed into that rhetoric of this is a coalition of cuts and a reminder of what you lost under a former National Government, so perhaps that's more the strategy there," Ewing told the panel.

The comments come as one of the latest polls found National and ACT could form a Government. National was on top at 37 percent, while Labour fell to 35 percent.

Sepuloni hit out at the parties on Saturday, saying National and ACT's superannuation policies are "out of touch" and put Kiwi's retirement savings at risk.

"We're drawing a clear distinction between Labour and the coalition of cuts," Sepuloni said, referring to the National and ACT parties. "We will not be toying with the age of eligibility, and superannuation will remain accessible, affordable and equitable."

But Williams thinks Labour could have gone further with their attack. 

"I would make a point that there not using half the ammunition that's open to them."

He came up with some ideas for the Party, citing a report from ACT deputy leader Brooke van Velden as a list of "ammunition" for Labour. The list included ACT's plan to cut Kiwisaver subsidies, scrap winter energy payments, lower benefits, put interest back on student loans and reduce public servant salaries.

"Well, that is wonderful meal for the Labour Party," Williams said.

In response to Sepuloni's attack, National said Labour are more interested in political attacks than fixing our country.

"Labour is the party that threatened to tax KiwiSaver, wiping billions off New Zealanders KiwiSaver nest eggs. It has also refused to rule out a new wealth tax on retirement savings. New Zealanders can't trust Labour to keep their retirement nest egg safe," National's finance spokesperson Nicola Willis said in a statement.

Meanwhile, ACT says an average 30-year-old earner is better off with ACT than Labour. It claimed a 30-year-old on New Zealand's average salary would save $81,265 by the time they're 67 under ACT's tax policy compared to the roughly $52,000 Labour said retirees would save by keeping the superannuation age the same.

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