John Roughan has written an odd column, saying how nuts it is that people who are still working and have good incomes and are well off can get National Superannuation from age 65.
As a reporter at Parliament when the Lange Government introduced the surtax, I vividly recall Venn Young, a minister in the previous Government, explaining to me the only reason those objecting to the surtax had accepted a 66 percent top tax rate for so long was the promise of a pension at 65, paid regardless of other income, assets or private savings.
I remember being amazed, because they must have known all those years they were paying that tax rate the budget was in deficit. They weren’t paying for all the public services they were using at the time, let alone contributing to their retirement.
And I was furious, because in their delusion that generation had voted down a properly funded scheme 10 years earlier, which would have matured about now.
My generation has failed to fix that mistake though it has made the economy stronger and more demanding for the next generation.
That lack of political will to deal properly with superannuation over the last fifty years, probably because older people are a large and growing bloc of voters who tend to turn out more than younger people, has been nuts.
This is not the first time I’ve tried to advance an alternative superannuation scheme in this column. It’s the best I can do.
I think the pension should not be available until we retire from regular paid work, and it should be available at any age after 60 to better cater for those in physically strenuous work.
That’s been suggested and rejected. United Future’s ‘flexi-super’, which allows you to choose when you start receiving Super anywhere between 60 and 70 (at a lower rate if you start younger) has been promoted by Peter Dunne and ignored by National.
In view of my generation’s enrichment by housing investments in recent years, at the expense of young working taxpayers with no equity who have to rent those investment homes, I think an asset test would be fair too.
That’s very contentious.
Only some of Roughan’s generation have been ‘enriched by housing investments’. And many of those who have use trusts to protect their assets.
And people who have built up assets claim they have paid their ‘fair share of tax’ so deserve some of that back – they say it’s unfair to penalise them for earning well and using their money wisely.
While Roughan generalises with ‘my generation’ he doesn’t say whether he has enriched himself through property investment.
Our children are working in a tougher environment than we did, they’ve had to pay back tertiary education costs we never faced and now they face house prices fuelled in large part by my generation’s investments for retirement. They should not have to provide me with a pension until I really need it.
Fine, I hear you say, don’t take it. And you’re right. I’m trying to think what makes me any different from Donald Trump. It tax avoidance worse than taking money you don’t need from the public purse? Both are perfectly legal, if that is the only test you recognise.
But Roughan sounds annoyed that Governments and parties haven’t heeded his advise to change universal eligibility for Super.
However while receiving Super for someone his age is legal I don’t think it’s compulsory.
But since it’s not going to happen and all political parties are determined to give me a benefit I don’t need, what’s the point of refusing? That’s how I rationalise it, but really it’s just greed.
So he’s miffed that it hasn’t been reformed and uses that to make an excuse for being, as he describes it, greedy.
That doesn’t sound very rational to me.