I'm all for government offering schemes that are voluntary (though I'm not always sure that if they're successful they'll stay voluntary) but Cullen's KiwiSave scheme just leaves me nonplussed -- and that's just the crap name.
Are New Zealanders bad savers? Opinions are mixed. Is it difficult to save when the government has its hand in your wallet to the tune of 45% of what's in there? Damn right it is.
So why not return some money to those who are having difficulty saving, ie., those who have little with which to save. So why not give people on a low income some of their own money back so they've got something to save with?
Why not for example introduce a threshold below which no income tax at all is paid? Say $10,000 - would cost bugger all and really help those earning little more than that. Why not remove excise taxes from those little pleasures that make a big difference when your money is a bit tight? Would only cost $2.2 billion. Instead they were raised back in April. You could even sack a few hundred-thousand bureaucrats and get them off the backs of taxpayers, and then get rid of GST and imediately make everyone 12.5% better off ...
Of course there was no chance of people getting back a decent chunk of their own money from a Labour Government, and instead we've got Cullen's almost irrelevant threshold increases and a derisory welfare-like savings scheme. Does Cullen trust people so little with their own money that he's not even prepared to give any decent chunk back to them so they can save their own money in their own way? Seems so.