Helping over-65s questioned

Laura Black.
Laura Black.
A Dunedin poverty campaigner is ''slightly puzzled'' by Labour's promise of free GP visits for older people, which she says will increasingly benefit the ''selfish generation'' of baby boomers.

Methodist Mission chief executive Laura Black said older people had a much lower rate of poverty than those under 18 and the youth group should be targeted.

''I'm struggling to see the case for the older 65 subsidy.''

Labour has also promised to extend free GP visits to under 13-year-olds and promised free dental care to pregnant women.

She was pleased with these policies, but said the party needed to go further to help young people.

Born between 1945 and 1959, the baby boomer generation was ''what's known as the selfish generation'', Ms Black said.

Targeting them with election promises reflected fierce competition between parties for the older vote.

''It is the generation that has been best taken care of. As far as I understand, the evidence for additional health subsidies for those over 65 is really weak [compared with younger age groups].''

Grey Power health national advisory group chairwoman Jo Millar, of Dunedin, said baby boomers paid their taxes like everyone else. The policy made financial sense by reducing hospital admissions caused by older people deferring GP visits, Mrs Millar said.

The baby boom generation has been criticised for removing social entitlements like free tertiary education once they had used them.

University of Otago politics lecturer Dr Bryce Edwards said Labour's policy, which would make 1.7 million New Zealanders eligible for free GP visits, raised the question of whether it ought to be made universal.

''It would reduce administration costs, it would reduce some of the tensions between generations and groups, and it would deal with the criticism that this is essentially a middle-class policy that will advantage rich just as much as it advantages poor.

''These policies seem designed not on the basis of need but on the basis of electoral calculation.''

Opposition parties focused heavily on child poverty in the last three years, but it is not shaping up to be an election issue.

''I never entirely thought the mainstream parties would put their money where their mouths are in terms of tackling that problem,'' Dr Edwards said.

Clutha-Southland Labour candidate Dr Liz Craig, a public health physician, rejected the claim of intergenerational unfairness, citing Labour's Best Start package for families with babies, GP visits for children, and housing and income policies.

Many people living on the pension had trouble paying for GP visits and prescriptions, she said.

Averting hospital admissions for conditions like pneumonia would save money in the longer term.


Just so....And not every baby boomer lived in luxury (then or now), was selfish and pampered, or had access to free education or any of those other things people are talking about. Many of our parents needed us to go out to work to support the family, to take over looking after it because Dad died in the war or came home a cot case or an alcoholic.
I couldnt go to uni from high school because Dad wouldn't let me. He couldn't afford to support me and there were no student loans or assistance from the government of the day to pay for living expenses. Just as there was no single parent's pension until somewhere into the 70s. These things came about because the boomer generation made it happen. It was the next lot that decided that they should all keep the profit and forget about everyone else.
This whole business of blaming boomers is yet more neo-liberal propaganda to get rid of pensions, saying they can't afford it because there are so many of us. Thats bull. In the next 10-15 years most of us will be dead. Then there will be oodles of money for everyone else wont there? No, because the few are stocking it up at the top end and making sure nobody gets it. They will find someone else to blame. Another reason not to be kind.
It's the current generations that keep voting these politicians in (or not voting them out). Get off your bums and vote them out and demand a different way... like so many of us boomers did. We got our benefits then from hard protesting. Get out on the streets and do the hard political work as we did and stop believing the rubbish that they are feeding you. And Laura Black should be ashamed of herself - she is a wolf in sheep's clothing.[Abridged]

Student loans

"And who paid when you couldn't get student allowance? Santa

We had to get a student loan to cover living costs and work part time jobs! Not everyone's parents could afford or were going to cover their children's tertiary education..

Free GPs

Yes, I think it would be the right thing to assess the possiblity of free GP and perscriptions for all under $50,000. I also think that Laura Black should resign or be asked to. She appears to have little grasp of the situation and seems very judgemental.I think it's time for this society to stop pedistalising the corporate way of being and allowing its creep into life on all levels. This all started in 1984 with Rogernomics creating the business model to apply to health and all of government. Government was never meant to be a business profit-making venture. It was meant to provide us with services that we needed as a whole, such as health, welfare, foreign relations etc. Now everything has become corporatised, even the charity 'industry'. It's got to stop. [Abridged]

Free GP visits

Maybe all people should receive free GP visits, as they used to in the "old days".   However, I doubt Laura would want that...

Who's been in her ear?

Who has Laura Black been talking to? This smacks of the 'me generation' who expect everything be handed to them no matter the cost, just as one poster here has clearly outlined, whinging about his student loan. Who forced you to go to uni? No-one!

The so-called baby boomers have worked all their lives and paid taxes the entire time, raised families and are the first to go without in times of need - both personally and when the country asks - unlike the whingers of today.

This woman is so far off the mark it's not funny. It's insulting, and her position must now be untenable. As for free dental for pregnant woman, where did that one come from? Oh, and no, Im not a baby boomer.

Don't you work in South Dunedin?

Considering the organisation Laura runs and that fact she is a poverty campaigner I am stunned by these claims. Poverty happens at all ages. Low incomes are rampant among the older people who rely on their superannuation payments from the Government. Maybe Dunedin Methodist Mission should start looking around to actually see where the povierty is - they are obviously in for a big surprise.


Well said. It was the 80s yuppie era that had us in trouble. And yes, the demand for commodities was anathema in my generation of hippies. We thought the excesses of the 50s was repulsive. Please everyone, get your facts straight and stop throwing around hostile propaganda.


I agree the generations are a bit confused here. I do believe that the end of my generation and the beginning of the next are really the target here. But either way, its obnoxious. If we are going to survive as a species, we are going top have to start having a bit of love and tolerance.

You should be ashamed

Your comments are uncalled for and insulting.  I would have expected far better from someone in your position.

Who paid?

And who paid when you couldn't get student allowance? Santa Claus?

Baby boomers not selfish

As a baby-boomer who has been married for 41 years, helped raised a family of 5 (even while on one income) I utterly reject the comment we are selfish.These comments ignore the fact we have paid our taxes honestly and faithfully since we started work in the late 60s and even now while we are entitled to super; still work and pay tax on all our earnings. most of us are in Kiwisaver and are putting away money for when we fully retire. In an increasing ageing population any assistance that is forthcoming from the Govt is an investment to our productive retirement so that the burden on the State is effectively minimised. These comments are "ageist" and should be retracted with an apology forthcoming. The truth is we all get old and social justice in N.Z. should apply to all age groups. 

Who is selfish?

Yep, some good points made by several correspondents.  I would love to know exactly who, apart from Laura Black, coined the phrase selfish generation.  Which generation that refers to is easily debatable.  Maybe, it's the generation she and I belong to.  

Selfish generation

Is Laura Black really in the right position here? Maybe respect for senoir members of our community, and a change of attitude and job would be appropiate.

Age and wisdom

I can't believe the hostility shown towards the over 65s by younger generations. Maybe the baby boomers are less affected by poverty than gen X and gen Y should I bother?, but this is because they learnt to knit and sew, grow cook and preserve their own produce, maintain their vehicles and homes regardless of whether they owned them outright. They didn't expect brand new appliances and electronics while being still at school. The baby boomers didn't have children in the expectation that the state would provide. They turned to the welfare state only after all other options had been exhausted. I know there are exceptions to every rule but I can only go on my own experience. The mistake that the baby boomers did make was to raise the greedy little yuppies that followed Gordon Gecko in the 80s. The things that the following generations are really poor in are living and parenting skills. A lot of poverty is the result of different expectations.

Student loans and the over 65s

I think that all the people who go a free, or close to free university education have yet to retire (it was a small window). The exception are probably those returned servicemen from WW2, and there are few of them left now.

Most kids back then didn't go to Uni, and half left school at 15.

Those currently over 65 likely had no access to student loans or a  free tertiary education. tThat's one of the reason why so few of that generation could afford Uni study - you had to earn the money yourself, and if you were lucky and passed the exams there was a $100/year (not per week, per year) bursary.

So before you start kicking the over-65s because you think they had it easy you should realise  that the people you are likely confusing them with are the people 10 years younger, the people who are currently running the country - Mr Key, Mr English, and Mr Cunliffe likely had their way through Uni paid for them. Perhaps they could pay a little more in taxes off the top rate instead.

Obnoxious and insulting

"Selfish generation'' What an obnoxious most insulting phrase Laura Black, a Dunedin poverty campaigner and chief executive of The Methodist Mission, has used to describe our elders. I am of the opinion that this woman should immediately withdraw that disgusting statement and then apologise to our elders. Resigning from her present position at The Methodist Mission would suffice.

The trouble is...

Like you said "Most of the people I know from this generation have worked longer than any other" and many do, well past retirement age, which is stopping jobs for the Gen X's and Y's who are trying to get feet in the door as these Boomers are leaving the work force.

Quote - "We were means-tested for our young til they were 25 years old in some cases, if they were students" Don't you mean WE the gen X's and Y's were mean tested?! WE were the ones who could not get
student allowances because of being means tested and WE are the ones whom had to get Student Loans for Fees and Living costs and are now burdened with Mortgage sized debts before even entering the workforce, which is something the boomers never had to endure through.

The point is, the majority of over 65's have the ability to pay (or someone to help out to pay) for Dr's bills then those with Families or on tight budgets.


Those 'selfish older people'!

I'm shocked that a well known 'poverty campaigner' and senior member of the Methodist Mission is calling our older people selfish and unworthy of free GP visits.  Many elderly people cannot afford GP visits on their pensions and suffer their ailments because they don't have a spare $40 or so out of their low weekly income to visit their doctor. 

What is happening in the here and now regarding people's social and economic situations should be the focus - not catagorising people according to a generic label such as 'baby boomers'  and therefore deciding all people over 65yrs don't need any financial help. 

For such an experienced social worker I find Laura Black's comments ageist and completely inappropriate.


Labour does have a plan to tackle child poverty

''I never entirely thought the mainstream parties would put their money where their mouths are in terms of tackling that problem,'' Dr Edwards said.

Does Bryce Edwards actually pay attention? I thought his job was to leave us more informed, not less. Labour has in fact put child poverty firmly on the agenda this election, and has committed money to solving it:

- Best Start payment for 3 years for low-middle income families.
- Free ECE extended to 25 hours
- Extending free ECE to ages earlier than 3 for vulnerable children
- Funding to expand ECE in areas of high deprivation
- Free antenatal classes for parents, and extra visits from Plunket
- Extending Well Child / Tamariki Ora to families with need.
- Healthy Homes Gurantee to ensure every rental home in the country is insulated and heated
-  Free GP visits for pregnant women and children under 14.
- legislative targets to eliminate child poverty, with regular reporting.  
- increasing the minimum wage. 

The Child Poverty Aciton Group says Labour's Best Start policy is a "very significant step forward" and "would impact  significantly the child poverty rate for [children 3 and under]".  I trust them more than Bryce I have to say.

Selfish generation?

Most of the people I know from this generation have worked longer than any other.

Many of us were working by age 15 and couldn't retire on Super til we were 65yrs old. We were means-tested for our young til they were 25 years old in some cases, if they were students. Many have brought up grandchildren as well, and others have saved their families thousands of dollars in childcare charges.

Not forgetting others I know who have helped their families with deposits for their own homes. And none of the ones I knew had any fancy tertiary education, whether it was free or not. We never had anything left to us by our parents either, we worked for all we got.

Born between 1945 and 1959, the baby boomer generation was ''what's known as the selfish generation'', Ms Black said.  

Maybe she should do a little research, she might learn something.


Im not sure which baby boomer's were 'selfish', Laura. I recall this cohort demonstrating in the streets for people in far off lands, and for social justice at home. I saw comrades permanently disabled by riot squad assault outside Eden Park, 1981. Those are the so-called selfish baby boomers I remember.

So what?

So you suggest allowing us all to die in poverty with ill health? We have paid our taxes. We have worked hard. Its not our fault that our fathers had to fight the father of all wars and came back needing sexual comfort and created a 'baby boom'. Go pick on someone else and stop fueling ageist hate. There's enough of that going around as it is. Look at the low rates of unemployment during our era to see how much tax we have paid and how we have contributed to the economy.But we cant all be in the 1% that can fund it all ourselves. Many women have been left with nothing in the age when it became no longer the mans responsibility to care for his young.  What do you want to do about them? Let them rot? There is a name for all this. Its called cruelty. Perhaps you'd like to lock us all up and neglect us until we die as they do in other, mainly fascist, countries.You should be ashamed of yourselves. You'll all get here one day too.

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