Support for NZ Super
In a somewhat unusual move at the sitting of the Niue Assembly this past week, members debated the issue of the proposed changes to the New Zealand pension, making it more accessible to some residents in the realm countries of Niue, Cook Islands and Tokelau.
The debate was based on a motion introduced by Common Roll member Stanley Kalauni who explained to the House that he wanted to send a message that not all were against the changes, a reference to Premier Sir Toke Talagi who withdrew his support when he realised that it did not apply to all residents of Niue.
Members who spoke in favour of the motion acknowledged that any arrangement that would make it easier for Niueans, Cook Islanders and Tokelauans to access the NZ pension scheme has to be applauded. Member for Tuapa Mrs Mona Ainu’u took a slightly different tack and supported the Premier’s stance that the changes did not go far enough. Mrs Ainu’u’s preference was to see all Niue residents who are NZ citizens, who have never lived and worked in NZ, but have lived and worked on the island, receive the pension. This is the same argument advanced by Premier Talagi when he withdrew his support.
Mrs O’love Jacobsen, while supporting the motion, warned that other NZ citizens who are not from the realm countries but are from countries in the region may see the changes as discriminatory. This is an argument that NZ government officials have trotted out in the past when portability of NZ Super was first mooted for realm countries. In a similar vein, the same sources predicted that the flood-gates would open and could cost the country millions. In reality, when the gates did open for the current existing arrangement, the predicted millions translated into no more than a trickle of about one million dollars.
When the motion was put to the House by the speaker, the majority voted in favour. All that remains now is for the Clerk of the House to advise the NZ High Commission to notify Minister Sepuloni that the Niue Assembly, by a majority, has voted to lend its support to the proposed changes to the NZ Superannuation.
[Premier Talagi was still overseas at the time of the Assembly sitting; he was in Manilla presenting Niue’s case to join the Asian Development Bank.]