Editorials 11 March 2010

The Herald approves of mooted KiwiSaver changes:

Commerce Minister Simon Power deserves praise for his decision to fast-track tougher reporting requirements for all KiwiSaver providers.

Not so David Ireland, the chairman of superannuation industry body Workplace Savings, who described the move as a “knee-jerk reaction”.

Like some other near-sighted individuals in the funds management industry, Mr Ireland seems to be struggling to come to terms with the idea that investors’ interests must come first.

When the subject is the integrity of KiwiSaver, which holds the investments of 1.3 million New Zealanders, there is every reason to move quickly to plug any gaps in regulation.

What scares me is the poll showing around half of KiwiSaver investors think their fund is government guaranteed.

The Dominion Post wants the public service reined in further:

The public service is a dollar-devouring behemoth that has thwarted many attempts to rein it in.

Prime Minister John Key will need to do better than he has so far, if he is going to succeed in slipping on the halter. It is vital that he does. …

Now the Government is treading so carefully it risks making no progress. Mr Key, through a spokeswoman, has denied there is any proposal that might be described as “radical reform”. Instead, all indications are of a process that smacks of the ad hoc, and of being driven by fear of public reaction as much as by any coherent strategy.

That is not good enough. Despite improvements in government finances, the Treasury is still forecasting deficits will continue to 2016. Finance Minister Bill English rightly wants the focus to remain on getting out of deficit as quickly as possible.

Once we are out of deficit, then we get far more palatable choices. We get to decide whether surpluses are spent on reducing debt, cutting taxes or increasing spending. But until we get back into surplus, it is all fairly unpalatable.

The Press looks at the progress in Iraq:

With so much attention focused on the violence in Afghanistan, there is a risk of downplaying significant events in Iraq, notably its recent election.

The result of this election, in terms of the shape of the coalition which will govern the nation, is likely to take weeks or even months of deal-making.

But the manner in which the election was conducted is one of the most positive developments in Iraq since the United States and its “coalition of the willing” allies toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. US President Barack Obama could ultimately be proved correct when he declared that the election was an important milestone in Iraq’s history.

The most notable feature of the election was the turnout which defied many observers’ expectations by reaching 62 per cent. This figure might not seem high by New Zealand standards, but it is worth reflecting that it is comparable to the most recent US election.

In a decade or so, Iraq may be doing relatively well.

And the ODT commemorates International Women’s Day:

New Zealand has much to be proud of in its gender equality record, and with the marking on Monday this week of International Women’s Day, there is cause for celebration.

In the most recent Global Gender Gap Report of the Geneva-based non-profit World Economic Forum, New Zealand is ranked fifth out of 134 countries in an index that assesses countries on how well they are dividing their resources and opportunities among their male and female populations – regardless of the overall levels of these resources and opportunities. …

But not so good:

In New Zealand, one in five women will be subjected to violence in their lifetime, compared to one in 20 men.”

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