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Maharey rejects National's loan claims

Hon Steve Maharey
Minister of Social Services and Employment
Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education)
Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector
MP for Palmerston North

24 February 2000

Maharey rejects National's loan claims

The Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education), Steve Maharey, has rejected claims by National that the Government's changes to the student loan scheme have backfired.

New forecasts by the Department of Work and Income suggest that around 150,000 individual student loans will be drawn down between 1 January and 30 June 2000. This represents an increase on previous forecasts of around 45,000 additional loans.

"The new Government set out to lower the costs of education to tertiary students. We have delivered on our promise. It is quite silly of National to suggest that somehow these policies have backfired.

"Our policies to remove the interest from the loans of full-time and part-time students earning under $24,596 has been well received by everyone accept National.

"More evidence of how out of touch National is. No wonder they lost the election.

"WINZ does forecast an increase in loan applications. However we won't know how accurate these forecasts are until late March. We will assess the situation then.

"I was interested to see Dr Smith suggesting that students were investing their loans on the share market. In fact students can only draw down a maximum of $150 per week for living costs. A student would have to save up their weekly entitlements for a long time to make such speculative investment worthwhile.

"This year we will be conducting a comprehensive review of the student loan scheme as we promised during the election campaign. We want to ensure that it has long term sustainability.

"Instead of whining about such a popular policy National should simply be ashamed that they were prepared to mortgage the future of a generation of New Zealanders by drowning them in debt", Steve Maharey said.


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