Shane Te Pou: National’s policies are whatever ups Christopher Luxon’s vote count
Reminder, this is a Premium article and requires a subscription to read. Shane Te Pou says lets look after our kaumatua; they deserve to retire at 65 with their super. Photo / Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg OPINION Want to decide what the National Partys policies are going to be? Theres no need to attend interminable local branch meetings, or have an awkward dinner with a senior MP and hand them a $50,000 cheque. No, just attend one of Christopher Luxons public meetings and ask him a question. Whatever you want to hear, whatever increases the chances youll vote for him, hell be only too happy to tell you thats Nationals policy now. Want to stop an apartment building being built down the street in your leafy suburb? Luxon will rip up the bipartisan housing accord and limit other peoples property rights to win your vote. Dont like all this Maori stuff like the outrageous idea that government agencies and street signs should use the indigenous, official language of Aotearoa, te reo Maori, alongside te reo Pakeha? Well, Mr Luxon agrees with you too, now. Even though Oranga Tamariki was so named under a National Government and he tried to trademark kia ora when he was chief executive of Air New Zealand, hell tell you te reo Maori is too confusing, if it makes you more likely to vote for him. Want a tax cut on your rental? Mr Luxon says hell give you one. Worried about government debt? Mr Luxon will pledge to get it down. Afraid hell cut public services? Mr Luxon will tell you hell increase funding (and never mind about when he was caught on a hot mic in Parliament saying he would cut so much). Want to see how National can increase spending, cut income and cut debt all at the same time? Well, hell show you how that all adds up... eventually, as close before the election as possible. For now, just trust him. But what if youre not one of the voters Luxon wants? What if youre a bottom feeder in Luxons lingo, an ordinary working Kiwi? No minimum wage rise for you; Luxon complains it makes his takeaway coffee more expensive. No Labour Day holiday; Luxon thinks it should be scrapped as a trade-off for Matariki. No help to buy an EV or hybrid and no help for your work to cut emissions while saving jobs in New Zealand. No Fair Pay Agreements, no 10 days sick leave, no free prescriptions; Luxon opposes them all. And youll have to work an extra two years or save an extra $100,000 when National and Act increase the superannuation age and gut KiwiSaver. For the wealthy voters Luxon is targeting, raising the superannuation is no big deal. Save an extra $100 a week or work two more years in the office. No biggie. But for tradies, retail and manufacturing workers, anyone putting in hard graft, the prospect of having to work two more years in your 60s is nothing to shrug off. And the idea of saving $100 more a week to make up for the lost super is pure fantasy. On average, Maori men only live to 73. So increasing the superannuation age from 65 to 67 is taking away a quarter of their retirement. The Retirement Commissioner is against raising the age because it would hit women, Maori, Pasifika and people on lower incomes. The fact is we can afford the slowly increasing cost. In fact, Nationals tax cuts would cost more than lifting the superannuation age would save. Its about priorities. And Luxons priority is winning the votes of landlords and the well-heeled, not a dignified retirement for everyone else. But Luxon and National may have misjudged in their campaign to raise the retirement age. Because the biggest opponents of politicians screwing around with superannuation are retirees themselves. Age Concern and Grey Power are adamant that the super age should remain at 65, not because it affects their members directly, but because once a government starts to chip away at superannuation, who knows where they will stop. Raising the age is the thin end of the wedge. Act would certainly be pushing for deeper cuts to what retirees get including decoupling super from wages and others would be pushing for means testing. A great many older people depend on superannuation for all or a large portion of their income. They may find theyre a lot less worried about bilingual road signs when the prospect of a National-Act government means their super is under threat. I say lets look after our kaumatua, one day hopefully we will all reach the age where we can deservedly sit back and watch our adoring mokopuna make our world a better one. Kia ora. Shane Te Pou (Ngai Tuhoe) is a commentator, blogger and former Labour Party activist. Reminder, this is a Premium article and requires a subscription to read. It's been 22 years since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York.