New Zealanders today regret the decision to abolish compulsory superannuation in 1976, and a solid majority of New Zealanders now favour the reintroduction of a universal KiwiSaver scheme.
Almost three out of four New Zealanders agree now that it was a mistake to scrap the 1975 scheme, according to research that was commissioned by the Financial Services Council and run during December.
A Horizon Research Survey of 2107 respondents and matched to the adult population, asked whether all New Zealander employees should be required to belong to KiwiSaver and whether it was a mistake for New Zealand to abolish its compulsory super scheme in 1976.
"This was once an issue that bitterly divided New Zealanders, but there has been a huge turnaround and now supporters of all parties agree that cancelling the 1975 Superannuation Scheme was a mistake and that universal coverage by KiwiSaver is supported," the chief executive of the Financial Services Council Mr Peter Neilson said.
Across the board almost 59 percent of New Zealanders support universal KiwiSaver with only 16 percent either opposed or strongly opposed. Another 25 percent are either neutral or not sure. Mr Neilson said support for a universal KiwiSaver scheme grows as the age of those asked increases, but in all age groups more people support, rather than oppose universal coverage of employees joining KiwiSaver.
Mr Neilson said this indicated the need for more education of the benefits from increased KiwiSaver participation, which included increased investment in jobs, increased wages and providing a cushion for the economy from recessions, while at the same time helping New Zealanders build a comfortable retirement income.
"Increasingly KiwiSaver is appealing to young New Zealanders as a way of building up a deposit for their first home. Last year KiwiSaver funded deposits on 10,000 first homes, worth around $3 billion," he said.
Mr Neilson said the FSC regularly surveys public opinion on retirement income policy issues, but does not itself have a policy on whether KiwiSaver should be universal for employees.
Horizon Research’s online panel is representative of the adult population at the 2006 census. The survey has an overall margin of error of ±2.2%. An estimate of the number of people in the workforce, based on survey responses, was within 0.5% of Statistics NZ figures for the September 2012 quarter.