The Retirement Commissioner made the modest suggestion that the age of eligibility for government-provided superannuation be raised by two months for every year from 2020 until 2033, at which point the age of eligibility would have risen from 65 to 67.
That's exactly the kind of recommendation that should be easily implemented given political constraints. Financial problems from Superannuation obligations obtain in the medium to long term. Moving now to commit the plan to starting hiking the age of eligibility in eight years' time, and then with only very mild annual changes, hardly seems politically courageous. Indeed, it's the kind of thing where a government could position itself as caring about the longer term with very little political cost. Even someone expecting to retire in 2020 has eight years to save up enough to prepare for a two month delay in eligibility.
What does our Prime Minister instead do? Rules out the changes he easily could have sold as desirable or at least have fobbed off on the Retirement Commissioner.
Speaking on TVNZ's Breakfast programme this morning, Key said raising the age wasn't a straightforward exercise. “If you’re in a desk job, it might be imminently possible that you could work to 66 or 67, and in fact, one in four people do work aged over 65 in some form or another – part time or full time," Key said.And so if he thinks about changing his mind next term, Labour's next leader will hit him for breaking promises (even if it's not quite a promise); if he sticks with stupid policy, those who normally don't like stupid policy will back him up saying it's more important that he not do anything scary or back down on what could have been viewed as an election commitment.
"But actually, if you’re in a manual job, by the time you get to 65, that probably is a very legitimate age to retire. So it’s not quite as straightforward as saying across the board the age is just going up,” he said.
Asked whether National would look at look at these issues if re-elected, Key said he was comfortable with the current policy settings.
I can't tell whether Key's a coward or whether he's deliberately leaving room on the right so that ACT doesn't disappear. If it were the latter, wouldn't we expect that National would have given ACT at least a couple of political concessions this past term?
See also interest.co.nz on other bits of the Retirement Commissioner's recommendations that National's ruled out...