• Christine Fletcher
Women's Affairs

The Minister of Women's Affairs, Chris Fletcher, today urged New Zealand women to familiarise themselves with the issues on retirement savings over the next two months in the lead up to the referendum.

"It is important that women think about the impact of the proposed scheme on themselves, on their family members and on our community".

Commenting on the design of the proposed Retirement Savings Scheme, released today, Mrs Fletcher said that a number of issues critical for women have been taken into account.

"The politicians and the others who designed this scheme listened carefully to advice from the Ministry of Women's Affairs. Many of those issues which have been raised over the past few months are evident in the design released today. For example, the Ministry argued convincingly for the scheme's design to take into account the needs of women and low income earners. Elements that address this include equal annuities for men and women, an income exemption and a minimum contribution payment.

"A number of outstanding design and related issues are still to be resolved. I am confident that the Ministry will be working hard to ensure that women's outstanding concerns are raised as we discuss remaining issues such as the regulation and operation of the annuity market and future taxation cuts".

"There are also related longer-term issues which affect a woman's ability to save for her retirement - issues like women's lifetime earning capacity and women's continued over-representation in lower paid jobs. Such issues would have a serious impact on the design of any retirement income scheme".

Mrs Fletcher said that it is time for women to think through all the issues, weigh them up carefully and reach an informed decision.

"The referendum provides an opportunity for discussion not only on the proposed Scheme but also on broader long-term issues about people's quality of life in their retirement and their access to services which are essential to an ageing population".

"We owe it to ourselves and our future generations to try and produce the best possible scheme out of this debate".

The Ministry of Women's Affairs will be providing background material on retirement savings and women as its contribution to the public discussion.