Niue Premier and Cook Island PM to make oral submission on NZ super bill
The importance of the Superannuation Portability bill to the Cook Islands and Niue sees their leaders make oral submissions in person tomorrow.
Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna and Niue Premier Toke Talagi will appear at Parliament accompanied by both countries’ High Commissioners to New Zealand.
Appearing at their own request they will make oral submissions to the Social Services Committee hearing on the Social Assistance (Portability to Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau) Bill.
If the bill passes into law, “245 people will become newly eligible for New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension” Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said last year when introducing the bill, “and this is likely to increase by an additional 16 people each year.”
The key criterion is the person must have worked in New Zealand for ten years after the age of twenty. However, five or more of those years must be after the age of 50.
It means that a Niuean, Cook Islander or Tokelauan national having worked in New Zealand, could return to their home island aged 55 and then when they turn 65, can apply from there, for New Zealand superannuation without having to come back or reside in New Zealand.
The two Pacific leaders will be the last submitters in the two-hour hearing and are scheduled to present from 12.25pm onwards.
Chairing the Committee is the Cook Islands first national to be elected into New Zealand’s legislative assembly, Alfred Ngaro.
As it passed its first reading last year, Mr Ngaro told the House that as Chair of the Select Committee, the bill is also an opportunity to start a conversation that may see the flexibility extend to nationals of other Pacific countries.
“This could be the start to broaden that conversation to other Pacific nations who have made contributions [to New Zealand],” Mr Ngaro told the House last year.
A government statement issued today added that the presence of both countries’ leaders and submitting at the hearing reflects the importance the committee’s work has for New Zealanders and the Pacific region.
The bill allows New Zealanders greater access to their superannuation and veteran’s pension, should they retire in the Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau.
The bill passed its introduction and first reading last year.
The select committee is due to make its report on the bill to the House of Representatives by 4 May 2015.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the hearing in person in Wellington. Alternatively, the public can watch the hearing webcast live or follow live updates by following @NZParliament or @NZSCWebcast on Twitter. All of these services are dependent on the IT capability in parliament that was blacked out yesterday.