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Government charts a lonely road on super

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/03/2017 Peter Wilson and Karen Sweeney

Bill English © Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images Bill English The government has a lonely road ahead as it campaigns on a policy of increasing the pension age.

Prime Minister Bill English announced on Monday eligibility for national super would go up from 65 to 67 in 2040, with changes phased in from 2037.

But it won't put legislation through parliament until next year, which means if National loses the September election it won't happen.

The government is justifying the move by saying the cost of super is going up and people are living longer - it's estimated that by 2040 they will be living three years longer than they are now.

There will be no other changes - the pension won't be means tested and the rate will stay the same.

Labour campaigned on raising the age in 2011 and 2014, but leader Andrew Little scrapped the policy after the last election.

He's standing firm on that.

"We might have a longer life expectancy but bodies still wear out and if you're doing heavy, physical work for most of your working life you are starting to wear out in your 60s," he said.

NZ First leader Winston Peters, who has built a reputation for protecting national super, hasn't rejected the government's policy outright.

He says the government is trying to look responsible while not actually doing anything.

"The only safeguard that the superannuitants of this country have, uniquely, remains New Zealand First," he said.

Government ally the ACT Party doesn't like the policy.

Leader David Seymour described it as "intergenerational theft".

"People under 45 will pay more and more tax for unsustainable baby boomer superannuation before having the same snatched away," he said.

Another government ally, United Future leader Peter Dunne, wants the government to introduce his party's FlexiSuper policy, which would let people choose when they take up superannuation.

The Maori Party didn't respond immediately but has been pushing for the age to be lowered for Maori, arguing their life expectancy is shorter.

The policy is likely to feature in any post-election negotiations Mr English has after the election, but he won't speculate on what the outcome might be.

He says he's happy to have the policy tested at the election, believes it will have broad public support, and that other parties might come around to supporting if.

"I think they'll be waiting to see how it plays out with the public," he said.

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