The new KiwiSaver changes are about showing "leadership", Finance Minister Grant Robertson told TVNZ1's Q+A today.
The Government announced this morning it is excluding KiwiSaver investment in fossil fuels and illegal weapons, as well as changing the default fund, which a person is automatically placed in, from the 'conservative' fund to the 'balanced' fund.
Mr Robertson told Jack Tame the current settings meant "people who are in default funds are actually missing out on quite significant amounts of money".
When asked about the increase in volatility of a balance fund compared to a conservative, Mr Robertson said it had to be seen in a "long-term view".
"The reality is most people who go into those default funds stay in them. If we're going to have New Zealanders staying in default funds for longer, they deserve the returns."
"We have a responsibility to show leadership here."
On default providers moving away from fossil fuels, Mr Robertson said the move to a low-emission economy meant investments should not be in fossil fuels.
National's finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith called the KiwiSaver fossil fuel ban "meddling" and "tinkering around the edges and indulging in virtue signalling".
"It shouldn’t be up to Jacinda Ardern to tell Kiwis they can’t invest in a product they use legally every day."
Climate Change Minister James Shaw said New Zealanders should not have to worry about "whether their retirement savings are causing the climate crisis".
The changes will be in place in June 2021.