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Govt wrongly uses BOR To Cut Student entitlements

Government wrongly uses Bill of Rights to cut student allowance entitlements

Students have obtained a legal opinion from a senior Wellington Barrister that shows that the government have wrongly used the Bill of Rights Act to cut access to student allowances for married, divorced and financially independent students.

“We knew that it was mean and unfair that the government cut access to student allowances using a highly technocratic approach to the Bill of Rights, now we have confirmation that it may well have been illegal,” said Fleur Fitzsimons, Co-President of New Zealand University Students’ Association.

The legal opinion compares the cuts to student allowance eligibility with the provisions in the Equal Pay Act noting that it does not follow that the correct way to remedy discrimination is by removing the favoured position of effected students.

“If the government were really committed to overcoming discrimination and consistency with the Bill of Rights, they would ensure that every student is entitled to a living allowance and that no student is forced to borrow to live.”

“This is a cynical use of the Bill of Rights which ignores other discrimination faced by students under the student loan scheme, like the fact that women take twice as long to repay their loans and that students are means tested on their parent’s income until they are 25,” said Fitzsimons.

“A 25 year old can buy alcohol, vote, drive and get married, it is ridiculous that the government continue to claim that these students are reliant on their parents to clothe and feed them.”

“The government can expect to hear from thousands of angry students when they return to tertiary institutions next year and find they are not entitled to a student allowance.”

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