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Ex-pat Kiwis forced to wait for retirement funds

Published: 6:55PM Sunday June 24, 2012 Source: ONE News

Thousands of New Zealanders with retirement savings stuck in Australia face an even longer wait to bring their money back home. 

The Australian Government is yet to pass legislation allowing Kiwis who have worked across the ditch to access money saved under their compulsory superannuation scheme in New Zealand.

This is despite the New Zealand and Australian government signing a reciprocal superannuation agreement three years ago.

Returned ex-pat David Buckingham has been fighting politicians from both sides of the Tasman to access his superannuation funds. 

He said his funds are being eaten up by fees and wants to see the money put toward supporting his young family. 

"I've got a lot of super sitting in Australia and I worked hard over there and 9% of my income went into these funds," he said. 

The Australian Superannuation scheme has been compulsory for the last 20 years, meaning any New Zealander who has worked there since the early 1990s is likely eligible for a pay-out.  

More than $16 billion of retirement savings are locked up in so-called lost super accounts in Australia, and a fair chunk of it belongs to Kiwis.

Finance Minister Bill English remains confident the Australian Government will pass the legislation next year, nearly four years after New Zealand passed similar legislation.

"There's a lot of Kiwis who have actually got quite large superannuation balance and their ability to bring them back to New Zealand might make it more likely they will come back," he said.

"The Aussies in the end are mates of ours and they'll get it done."

SuperLife - a New Zealand owned superannuation advisor - receive 2-3 calls every week from frustrated Kiwis eager to access their Australian nest egg even though they say on their website the funds are not accessible. 

SuperLife director Michael Chamberlain said the retirement fund industry wants the issue sorted out as quickly as possible as it will be pump a large amount of money into the New Zealand economy.