Good news for the likes of us who wish to retire to NZ. Just have to get NZIS to agree to let us in. ;)

Pensioners in line for discounts
Monday October 16, 2006
By Audrey Young

Pensioners will get discounts on petrol and insurance under gains New Zealand First has negotiated for a senior citizens card, leader Winston Peters has indicated. And he hinted at his party's conference in Auckland yesterday that a programme of personal tax cuts through adjustments to the thresholds was being discussed.

"Watch this space," he said, advice later echoed by Revenue Minister and United Future leader Peter Dunne.

New Zealand First campaigned strongly last election on the promise ofa "Golden Age" discount card for senior citizens. But then, and even in the party's later confidence and money supply agreement with Labour, details were sketchy.

"Very soon we will be making major announcements on its name and its benefits and they are significant," Mr Peters told conference delegates. "From petrol prices to insurance to rates to the major costs that old people have to deal with we are going to have a Golden Age card that makes their money go further."

The Ministry of Social Development is setting up a business unit to administer the card, and some companies have expressed interest in offering discounts. The ministry will run a tender process for industries to be identified with discounts the card gives pensioners. These clearly include oil and insurance companies.

Details of how the card will function and its name will be announced next month and the card is expected to be issued and take effect next year.

The New Zealand First conference had a marked focus on core issues - not only the elderly but particularly law and order and promises to make drug crime a priority in future policy. But Mr Peters also sought to identify his party with any tax cuts Labour announces at the end of the present review, a policy area that United Future, Labour's other support party, claims.

Mr Peters said some had believed it was impossible to convince Labour about the value of tax cuts, "and make no mistake, it is us that is doing so". He cited the tax breaks for the racing industry, business tax cuts and credits for exporters.

He also believed that if the cash surpluses continued - $3 billion last financial year - "there is scope for personal tax cuts". "We would suggest that moving tax thresholds is the way to go - so watch this space."

Raising thresholds increases the income amounts at which higher tax rates take effect. The top tax rate, of 39c in the dollar, now takes effect once a taxpayer's annual income reaches $60,000. Mr Peters also said he would not settle for the business tax to be cut from 33c to Australia's rate of 30c. "It has to be much lower than that."

Last night, Mr Dunne thought that Mr Peters had been talking "very tongue in cheek" in claiming credit for moving Labour on tax matters. But he endorsed what Mr Peters said on moving thresholds.

"It is a matter of watch this space. Thresholds, rates, they are all part of the mix." He suggested that making smaller tax cuts more often was the way to go. "I have thought for a long time that ... tax reform needs to be more steady than once a decade. The indexing of thresholds is part of that but you could certainly foreshadow changes at certain points, fiscal circumstances permitting."

Movement in the thresholds and indexation were announced by Finance Minister Michael Cullen last year but they were so small as to have been called - by Mr Peters - "the chewing gum budget".

Mr Dunne said the decisions on business tax would be made in February, and he was more measured than Mr Peters about the call to cut business tax to below 30c, saying, "it is a case of first things first."