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New Zealanders with life-shortening conditions are being left in limbo for longer about access to their KiwiSaver funds because the Government hasn’t taken advantage of cross-party support to fix the problem, National List MP Nicola Willis says.

“The majority of New Zealanders can expect to retire at 65 and draw their pension for many years. But current law doesn’t recognise Kiwis with a chronic illness or health conditions that means they’re unlikely to live until 65. This effectively prevents some KiwiSavers from accessing the funds they have built-up over years of hard work.

“I’m really disappointed that Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi has refused to adopt my Member’s Bill, which would provide a mechanism to permit someone with a life-shortening illness or condition to apply for compassionate consideration to make withdrawals prior to age 65.

“This shouldn’t be a party-political issue. My KiwiSaver (Compassionate Consideration) Amendment Bill was published in December and could have been adopted as the template, allowing a select committee to get stuck in and given this issue much needed momentum.

“Instead, the Minister commissioned advisers to report back on the issue by the end of February. Nothing came of that and I again wrote to him in March suggesting we work together to fix this. He ignored my approaches and now says any solution will be late this year.

“The Minister still has scope to adopt my Bill as Government legislation, allowing Parliament to get to work on changing the law.

“I’m gutted for people like Tim Fairhall, a lovely man who has worked hard to accumulate KiwiSaver funds. Tim wants to access that money before his condition, Down Syndrome, prevents him from doing so.

“The proposed mechanism in my Bill would be consistent with KiwiSaver’s purpose of encouraging the development of a savings habit while allowing New Zealanders to provide for their own well-being and financial independence.

“I committed to Tim and his family that I would work across the House to get progress on this issue as soon as possible. I urge the Minister to show the same spirit and pick up my Bill.”

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