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Student Welfare Must Be Top Govt Priority

News that the Government will save over $100m over the next three years due to the deal recently signed between the Australian and New Zealand Governments opens up the opportunity for the government to ease student hardship by reinstating the Emergency Unemployment Benefit (EUB) for students who can't find work over the summer.

The NZ/Australia pact concerns payments to ex-pat kiwis who are currently receiving the benefit while living in Australia, and students believe that the money saved by the deal should be put back into the welfare system.

"In 1999 the then National Government slashed the Emergency Unemployment Benefit, now renamed the Community Wage Student, as one of its cost cutting measures in response to the Asian financial crisis," VUWSA President Chris Hipkins said today.

"At the time the then Labour opposition called it a 'mean spirited attack on students that will save only a small amount of money', yet despite this, they have not reinstated it since they took office over a year ago,"

"The Government have repeatedly told us they have no money in the coffers to reinstate the EUB, despite campaigning vigorously for the student vote in 1999 with a promise to bring the cost of tertiary education down. Now they have an opportunity to do something about that," Mr. Hipkins said.

"Lowering the interest charged on student loans and freezing fees hasn't lowered the cost of tertiary education at all, it has simply kept it at the same level. While we do welcome these measures we believe that if the government is serious about tertiary education, then they must urgently look at increasing eligibility for allowances, including the EUB, and lowering fees,"

"Until they do so, they won't be able to claim they have fulfilled their election pledge card promise to bring the cost of tertiary education down," Mr. Hipkins said.

Chris Hipkins President Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (Inc.) Te Ropu Tauira o te Kura Wananga o te Upoko o te Ika a Maui

+64 (4) 473 8566 VUWSA Office +64 (4) 499 7100 facsimile +64 (4) 801 6211 after hours +64 (021) 707 927 cellular

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