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Steve Should Not Forget Pre-Election Pledge

Slippery Steve Should Not Forget Pre-Election Pledge

Associate Minister for Education Steve Maharey should not forget his pre-election pledge to bring down the cost of tertiary education when he meets with Vice-Chancellor's to discuss the government's fee freeze offer, according to the President of the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association Chris Hipkins.

"Tertiary education was one of the key issues during the 1999 general election campaign, and Labour jumped on the bandwagon promising a concentrated effort to bring down the fees. Their pledge to keep their promises and restore integrity to the government will look rather hollow if fees increase this year," Mr. Hipkins said.

In 1999 Mr Maharey promised, "In contrast to National, Labour is committed to lowering the cost of tertiary education, which should be open to all regardless of background or bank balance." Despite this, it is widely anticipated that the Government's offer of extra funding will not be sufficient to ensure fees are maintained at their present level for a further year.

"Lowering the cost of tertiary education was one of the key pledges Helen Clark signed her name to before the election. Any back down on fee stabilisation now makes a mockery of Labour's entire pre-election pledge card campaign," Mr. Hipkins said.

Hipkins also reminded Labour's coalition partner, the Alliance, of their pre-election promises to campaign for free education when in government. "Labour will look pretty bad if fees go up this year, but not as bad as the Alliance," Mr. Hipkins said.

"Thus far it's difficult to find any significant tertiary education initiatives that have been instigated by the Alliance that wouldn't have happened anyway. In fact the Alliance even backed out of their own campaign to reinstate the Emergency Unemployment Benefit for students who couldn't find work over summer despite overwhelming public support for it," Mr. Hipkins said.

"Ultimately students won't be the only losers if fees go up this year. As well as the negative impact on the economy, the cynical nature with which many young people view the political system will only get worse. We've had enough of broken promises by politicians, it's time for the government to put their money where there mouth was before the election," Mr. Hipkins concluded.

Chris Hipkins
Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (Inc.)
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