Prime Minister John Key has dismissed suggestions immigrant pensioners are straining New Zealand's costly superannuation scheme.
New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters yesterday told the party's conference there are 22,000 immigrants who have not contributed to the economy, yet claim the pension.
The figure was today rubbished by Key who said there were 14,135 immigrants enrolled in the superannuation scheme identified as having arrived in New Zealand aged 55 or above.
Fewer than 3500 were Chinese immigrants.
"Yes there are some people who come to New Zealand and either are in the workforce for a short period of time or not at all, but for the most part they're a very small group," said Key
Key said the comments were "typical Winston" and a political ploy for the MP to drum up support in time for the 2014 election.
He said the Government had moved to tighten superannuation by making it more likely for immigrants to be granted residency if they waived their rights to claim a pension.
He said this move saves $40 million a year.
But Labour leader David Shearer said Peters' claims validated further investigation by the Government.
"I'm not sure where Winston Peters got all his information from and his facts from what we want to try and do is go back and take a look if there is anything in it."
Peters' comments came as he was discussing Labour's policy to gradually raise the age of eligibility for superannuation from 65 to 67 by two-months a year between 2020 and 2032.
NZ First's firm policy is to retain the current age of 65.