For many of us, ‘older New Zealanders’ is a phrase that includes our parents, our grandparents, and our friends. Older people are an important part of many of our lives.
The United Nations International Day of Older Persons is a chance to celebrate and recognise the contribution older New Zealanders make to our lives, our families, and our communities.
This year’s theme is ‘The Growing Opportunities and Challenges of Global Ageing’, which gives us food for thought about how our future might look.
Older Kiwis play an important part in our communities. We all know older New Zealanders who are the backbone of volunteer organisations and who make things happen. The time, passion, and skills they bring cannot be underestimated.
Many older New Zealanders also continue to work, pay taxes, and contribute to the economy. The most recent Household Labour Force Survey shows more than 100,000 New Zealanders over 65 are still part of our workforce. They bring valuable experience, skills, and knowledge to all kinds of workplaces.
National recognises the contribution of older New Zealanders, and has worked hard to deliver on the things that matter.
In the past three years, all Super rates have increased by 19 per cent due to tax cuts, annual inflation adjustments, compensation for the GST increase, and because the after-tax average wage has risen significantly.
We have delivered on our promises to improve access to healthcare, and older New Zealanders have benefitted. Last year we delivered 12,000 more elective surgeries for people aged over 65 than in 2007/08.
In our first Budget we invested an extra $72 million over four years to improve and support rest home nursing supervision, and last year we increased residential care subsidies by a further $64 million over four years.
People who need, and are ready for cancer radiation treatment are now getting it within four weeks of their first specialist assessment. We have more than 800 new doctors and 2000 new nurses working in our health system, as well as more than 1800 medical graduates signed up to our voluntary bonding scheme.
Over the next four years, we’re directing $40 million to look after people living with dementia, and $4 million for respite care for those caring for people with dementia.
We’ve kept our promise to get tough on violent crime. We’ve passed 18 new laws to make families safer in their homes and communities, and are working to address the drivers of crime. Under National, the crime rate has dropped 6.7 per cent per person.
National is delivering for our older New Zealanders, and recognises the valuable contribution they make to our society.