MURRAY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has promised a “political war” over superannuation.
The firebrand politician has also claimed his party will be at the hear of New Zealand’s version of the Brexit “surprise”.
Peters made the comments in a fiery speech to more than 120 delegates at Grey Power’s annual general meeting in Palmerston North on Tuesday.
He said the feeling that big political parties are ignoring people was bubbling over in New Zealand – and it showed in debates like the one about superannuation.
“There’s only one party in New Zealand who can say the one thing that matters in this election: ‘We hear you.’ When this election is over, we’re going to see the same expressions of surprise in the media we had after Brexit and Trump.”
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Grey Power Manawatu president Lew Findlay said that was the message that resonated the most with senior citizens. Every party was invited to speak at the Grey Power AGM, but only one party sent its leader and older people will remember that.
“A lot of parties have forgotten who we are [and] in between elections we don’t see them, but Winston is always available. We have a lot to offer. We’re important to society. We’re not just has-beens.”
Findlay said seniors were the core of many of the country’s voluntary organisations. In the 2013 Census, nearly 20 per cent of over 65s were involved in voluntary work.
Peters said other parties had ignored the majority of New Zealanders, including large sections of society like senior citizens.
He predicted the election will boil down to a three-way fight – “tired, old and arrogant” National, a marriage of convenience between Labour and the Greens that “explodes the day after the election”, and NZ First riding a rising tide of populism.
Peters said superannuation’s net cost was 3.8 per cent of gross domestic product – almost half the OECD average.
There needed to be a focus on creating jobs and improving productivity, not withholding the hard-earned reward of people who’ve contributed for 45-50 years.
“If we can build the kind of economy Australia has, [super] won’t cost us any more in 2050 than it does today.”
Peters said supporters of raising the superannuation age to 67 make “the most stupid” arguments when they said leaving NZ Super unchanged was unsustainable.
“They can’t make out the fiscal case for such claims, but that never stops them.
“They come for you because you are easy to come for. Why would they do any different after September 23 if you let them get away with it.”