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PM Chris Hipkins facing flak over Super age decision ahead of Labour Congress address

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The Labour Party has promised to keep the superannuation age at 65 – a decade after pushing to increase it – promoting accusations of hypocrisy by the opposition.

The decision was Labour’s main announcement at its Congress in Wellington this weekend ahead of Prime Minister Chris Hipkins’ speech to party members this afternoon when he is expected to make another announcement. Reports suggest it will be education-focused.

The future of superannuation had been given relatively little attention by political parties consumed by the high cost of living and crime levels, but it was thrust into the spotlight when Labour yesterday claimed National’s policy to raise the super age to 67 would mean some people would miss out on more than $50,000 – a figure that would be much higher if Act’s policy to cap KiwiSaver subsidies was added.

“We’ve done the maths. If you’re a young person, the Coalition of Cuts will take more than $98,000 off your retirement,” Sepuloni proclaimed to 400 party faithful gathered at Te Papa.

“Unlike National and Act, today I am confirming that we will not be lifting the age of eligibility.”

The move came alongside confirmation that under Labour, government contributions to KiwiSaver would not be stopped or reduced, payments to the NZ Super Fund would not be stopped or reduced and the Winter Energy Payment would be maintained.

Sepuloni conceded to journalists after her speech that her figures did not take into account the benefit from National or Act’s tax cuts.

In 2021, Treasury warned of an “unsustainable level of debt” amid rising cost pressures because more New Zealanders were retiring, which would drive up health costs.

“Driven by lower average fertility rates and improvements in life expectancy, 26 per cent of the population is projected to be over 65 years old by 2060, compared to 16 per cent in 2020,” it said.

Sepuloni claimed keeping the current Super age would still be affordable, as long as investments into the Super Fund were continued.

Former Labour leader Phil Goff advocated for an increase to the age of superannuation about 12 years ago. Photo / Alex Burton

Twelve years ago, it was then-Labour leader Phil Goff claiming his party had more “balls” than John Key’s National through its proposal to raise the age to 67 and implement it gradually between 2020 and 2033.

“Chris Hipkins is being hypocritical Hipkins when he talks about superannuation because he campaigned in the past on raising the Super age,” National campaign chairman Chris Bishop said.

“He is on the record alongside other Labour Party figures as saying that it is the responsible thing to do.”

Bishop and deputy leader Nicola Willis claimed Labour was whipping up anxiety in voters on the matter.

“Labour should be presenting New Zealanders with a plan to get them through the cost-of-living crisis,” Willis said.

“Instead, they are too busy trying to score cheap political points by hypocritical scaremongering.”

Bishop was set to unveil the party’s housing policy this morning after leader Christopher Luxon admitted National was wrong to agree to housing density standards in 2021.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Finance Minister Grant Robertson enjoy a laugh during Labour Party Congress. Photo / Getty Images

Labour and Hipkins are expected to continue their onslaught on the two right-wing parties and to deliver some taunts of the “coalition of cuts” – Labour’s term for a potential National/Act government.

Deputy leader Kelvin Davis set the tone early yesterday, with criticisms of Act’s intentions to scrap several ministries and boost prison numbers while he also hit out at “negative National”, saying everything is at stake at the upcoming general election.

Act was Davis’ primary target, claiming the party would prefer to imprison Māori and go back to a “one-size-fits-all model that has proven not to work”.

“Their value system is the antithesis of ours,” Davis said of Act.

He followed his comments with critiques of “negative National”, saying it would evict tenants for no reason and reverse Labour’s removal of the $5 prescription charge.

“We are being judged by an opposition that operates under a different worldview and values but I’m positive and I have hope for the future.”

Members attending the conference, called a Congress in an election year, appeared to be in good spirits as they received campaign training, learned about new candidates and heard from various members of the party leadership.

Grant Robertson gets the crowd laughing at Labour’s Congress at Te Papa in Wellington. Photo / Getty Images.

Robertson as the Wellington Central MP received raucous applause upon taking the stage and lived up to his reputation for delivering comical one-liners teasing the Opposition leaders, Luxon and David Seymour.

He took great pleasure in poking fun at National’s use of artificial intelligence in its attack ads on social media, saying National MPs had been “hunched over ChatGPT” searching for their next ad.

“AI is now creating their policy and their people as well,” Robertson proclaimed to hearty laughter.

“Every bad idea that the Nats have ever had has been put into ChatGPT and it spat out their leader, Captain Cliche himself.”

He compared the opposition to the most “rubbish Marvel comic ever invented”, deeming David Seymour a “reverse Robin Hood”.

GPT’s reaction to this article:

As an AI language model, I cannot provide a personal opinion on the matter. However, based on the article, it seems that the Labour Party has changed its stance on the superannuation age and is now promising to keep it at 65, which has been criticized by the opposition as hypocritical. The article also mentions the upcoming election and the different policies and criticisms from both sides.

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