National pledges Seniors Commissioner in seniors policy

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The National Party is promising to establish a commissioner for senior citizens, and maintain the winter energy payment, if elected.

Judith Collins with her book in Wellington

Judith Collins signs a copy of her book in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

It forms part of National’s seniors policy announced today by leader Judith Collins and its spokesperson for seniors Tim Macindoe.

National would:

  • Establish a Seniors Commissioner
  • Provide couples on superannuation an extra $1000, and an extra $560 for singles
  • Fund dementia service, training and support through Vote Health
  • Strengthen measures to prevent elder abuse
  • Maintain superannuation payments at 66 percent of ordinary wage for couples
  • Maintain winter energy payments, SuperGold card
  • Promote shared living arrangements
  • Review power of attorney legislation
  • Increase spot checks in rest homes

The party has already committed to directing the Office of Seniors to negotiate better discounts for the SuperGold card.

Collins says a National government would ensure New Zealand is a nation where seniors are respected, feel safe and secure and quality health treatment is available in a timely manner.

“Seniors deserve respect and recognition for the contribution they have made to New Zealand. It is their sacrifices and dedicated service that has made us the nation we are today,” she said.

Macindoe says the Seniors Commissioner would be a dedicated champion for seniors.

“National recognises the importance of our seniors and will give them the support they deserve,” he says.

Collins has continued her attack on the Greens’ wealth tax policy, saying seniors would be particularly targeted by it.

She says “only a National government can commit to not introducing a wealth tax on retirees”. Labour and its leader Jacinda Ardern have also repeatedly committed to not introducing a wealth tax, or any other taxes above what it has already announced – higher tax brackets and a digital services tax.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says her party is also keen on the idea of a seniors commissioner.

“We actually in opposition were of the view that having an advocate – particularly around aged care – would be helpful. It is not something that we were able to progress in the last term but it’s something we would like to see some progress around.”

She says some work will need to be done to make sure such a role – which will be different from the retirement commisioner – has appropriate support.

“It is something that making sure that you’ve got it attached to the right agency, that they have the functions that are going to make a difference. You’ve always got to be careful that one person isn’t carrying the job alone, you have to make sure that they’ve got the support around them.

“The retirement commsisioner is obviously very focused on savings, and ensuring that Kiwis of all ages are prepared for their retirement, [whereas] aged care in particular there’s a level of vulnerability there, it is also very much a health issue. I do think that there’s a role to play for someone advocating in that space.”

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