Labour leader Andrew Little has accused Finance Minister Bill English of "political recklessness" for saying there was no viable political path to changing super and it was for future governments to deal with the costs as they wished.
Speaking on Q+A yesterday, Mr English said the forecast costs of $30 billion by 2030 were large but ruled out changing anything, saying it was affordable "at the moment".
"The future governments are free to have any discussion they like with the New Zealand public." However, he said governments had learned that changes to settings such as the age of eligibility were not welcomed by many. "There doesn't appear to be an alternative viable political path to changing national super."
Mr Little said Mr English was fobbing the problem off to future governments.
"That is confirmation of their political recklessness. So they know they've got this big fiscal issue staring them in the face. The political plan is to ignore this and make it everybody else's problem. It is totally reckless. "
Mr English's comment also drew fire from Act leader David Seymour, who has met leaders of all parties other than NZ First to try to broker a cross-party committee and get support for a referendum. Mr Little said Labour was considering his proposal and had urged him to get others on side.
National has been hamstrung by Prime Minister John Key's statement he would resign rather than change the age of eligibility. Mr Seymour said a referendum would effectively get Mr Key off the hook because the public would make that decision. He did not believe it was the lost cause Mr English claimed.
"Anyone currently at university or entering the workforce is going to have two workers per retiree when they retire. That is just not sustainable. It's not enough to say New Zealanders are comfortable with it. Some are but not all."
Mr Little was unable to set out what Labour would do, saying it was still reviewing its policy. He said restarting Super Fund payments was a priority, but he has acknowledged he believed Labour's policy of raising the retirement age had hurt it in the last election and said he did not favour it. He has also ruled out any form of means testing after saying last week Labour would look at the situation of over-65s who worked and got super.
Mr English also told TV3's The Nation introducing auto enrolment for KiwiSaver could be closer after scrapping the $1000 kickstart payments to new members. "It would be considerably cheaper." He said getting back into surplus would also help, and "eventually" allow contributions to the Super Fund to resume.