Devonport Flagstaff Column - 24 March: Longer and Healthier Lives
It’s good to know that with an ageing population we will be leading longer and healthier lives which is why we are planning to adjust the long-term settings of NZ Super from 65-67 by 2037. Gradually increasing the age of entitlement with plenty of warning will give people time to adapt and plan and it will spread the costs and benefits more fairly between generations and makes sure the scheme remains affordable.
Of course there’ll be no change if you already get NZ Super and essentially people over 45 will not be affected. Super will not be means or asset tested and the weekly payment will remain pegged to 66 per cent of the average wage which rises along with the strengthening economy – in the past eight years the weekly rate has gone up 35% after tax compared to a 14% rise in inflation.
To ensure ongoing fairness to New Zealanders, the residency requirement for NZ Super will rise from 10 to 20 years and will apply to anyone wanting to claim Super who arrives in the country after the legislation is passed next year.
As Minister for Seniors I’ve just announced changes to Enduring Power of Attorney forms and they’re now much simpler and easier to understand while still being legally binding. Alongside ‘Conversations that Count’ day on April 5th, I'd really encourage you to talk to your loved ones or your older relatives about how to plan if they become mentally less capable later in life and draw up an EPA while you can. I've also recruited around 300 legal firms to provide discounts via the SuperGold card for drawing up wills and EPAs so have a look on the website for more details www.superseniors.msd.govt.nz where you can also sign up to receive our SuperSeniors newsletter to keep up to date on Gold card discounts and issues of interest to seniors
The stunning Devonport peninsula is a great place to live but could be frightening during a natural disaster. My colleague Civil Defence Minister, Gerry Brownlee, has just unveiled a Cell Broadcast Alert System to give us a heads up when there’s danger and help us stay safe in an emergency. Civil Defence is working with cell phone companies to ensure the alert system can get to every phone, so you don’t even need to sign up. Similar systems are in place in the Netherlands, Japan and the US. It will help us all in Devonport to stay safe in the event of a tsunami or major weather event.
To stop us feeling pain of another kind, the Department of Conservation has been targeting wasps this summer with a very effective bait called Vespex. Wasps cost the economy up to $130 million a year and are a nuisance when their nests are in our neighbourhoods. After thorough testing on public conservation land this very effective bait is now available to be used in our backyards and wipes wasp nests out overnight. People can buy Vespex online by registering, taking a short safety test and becoming an approved user. Once you’re an approved user you could help any of your neighbours who also have wasp issues. The protein bait is targeted at the black and yellow striped German and Common wasps and is not attractive to bees. Unfortunately Vespex doesn’t control those Paper wasps that attack our Monarchs – something to work on.
While many of us were taking shelter from the storm earlier this month, Murrays Bay Sailing Club was hosting its 50th annual 24-hour yacht race on Lake Pupuke and raising funds to cover coaching costs next season. This race is the stuff of folklore and it’s great to see all the community support it attracts each year. It has a well-earned reputation as NZ’s toughest dinghy race, and it certainly lived up to that during the stormy weather that tested everyone’s sailing skills. Congratulations to winners Thomas Saunders and Andrew McKenzie - completing an impressive 84 laps of the Lake in just over 24 hours - and also to top solo sailor Olivia Christie who completed an outstanding single-handed 81 laps non-stop.