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Dont bash Kiwisaver: Improve it.

  • October 30th, 2006

Michael Chaney, President of the Business Council of Australia last week remarked on Australia’s new appetite for business risk. That national self confidence now strikes kiwi visitors. Chaney linked it to superannuation savings.
Given the sorry contrast with New Zealand, and legitimate worries about ‘Working for Families’ deliberate fostering of welfare dependence, our next election will surely star arguments about exactly how, not whether, to copy Australia’s compulsory superannuation.
National should be careful lest it is forced to eat criticisms of Kiwisaver. I’ll wager that Kiwisaver becomes the base for compulsory personal savings accounts, even if only in cargo cult imitation.
Here are extracts from Chaney’s reflections:

”A SIGNIFICANT change is occurring in Australia
Instead of being risk-averse and inward-looking, we
are more accepting of risk and more confident we can meet the challenges of
competition. Rather than waiting for others to provide, Australians see
themselves shaping their present and future…

I can’t help feeling that an important factor has been the dramatic shift to
the Australian as shareholder. Twenty years ago, when the Australian economy
was really struggling, it would have been hard to believe that in 2006 more
Australians would own shares directly and indirectly than in any other
country except the
US, where the number is comparable, at more than 50 per

Every morning, millions of Australians turn on the television or radio to
listen to the latest market reports…
It all reflects a growing understanding and appreciation of
what it actually takes to achieve success and prosperity…

It’s also embedding a mind-set in which confidence and security in ourselves
and our place in the world has become a quintessential part of the Australian character”. 

Despite New Zealanders’ lack of that owner confidence I see signs of promise here too. Instead of routine tall poppy slashing there has been a striking absence of nastiness about the sudden wealth of our young business heroes. Setting aside worries about offshore control of Trade Me, Cafe L’Affare, Kathmandu, 42 Below etc. the tone has been almost universally congratulatory. On radio talk-back “good on yer mate” has displaced the mean-spirited anti-rich envy of a few years ago. Could it be that New Zealanders are ready to end the reign of envy-driven politics?

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